DURHAM – Despite inflation, higher interest rates and continuing challenges in finding as well as retaining workers, corporate financial officers are growing a bit more optimistic about the U.S. economy.

So says the latest CFO Survey from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and its partners the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta.

“Firms continue to anticipate employment and revenue growth in 2023, albeit at a slower pace than last year,” said Atlanta Fed economist Brent Meyer. “Even though CFOs improved their economic outlook somewhat, they noted a confluence of challenges as they navigate a historically tight labor market, persistently high pricing pressures, and tighter monetary policy going into 2023.”

According to the survey, CFOs rank the economy at 55 on a scale up to 100. While lower than the historic average of 60, the score is higher than the previous quarter.

They also upped their expectations for gross domestic product growth to 1.4% from 0.7%.

Negative expectations declined sharply to 19% from 31% last quarter.

However, more companies are decreasing spending.

Issues involving workforce, such as compensation and retention/hiring, were the CFOs’ top concern.

The survey closed March 10.