Most executives remain confident about business growth

Six percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) said they plan to hire full-time accounting and finance employees during the third quarter of 2010, while 9 percent anticipate staff reductions, according to the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index. The majority of respondents, 83 percent, do not expect to make changes to their personnel levels.

While the projected net 3 percent decrease is down slightly from the second-quarter forecast, CFOs remain optimistic about the outlook for their businesses. Some 84 percent of respondents said they are very or somewhat confident in their firms' growth prospects for the next three months, the same figure reported the previous quarter.
 
The Robert Half Financial Hiring Index is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs across the United States. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International, a Menlo Park, CA-based staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the U.S. since 1992. 
 
"Though most CFOs are optimistic about future growth for their companies, many remain cautious in their hiring outlook and are keeping a close watch on economic trends," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "At the same time, some firms are managing increased business activity by bringing in temporary professionals or making strategic full-time hires."
 
The West South Central states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) should experience the most active hiring in the third quarter, survey results indicate. Twelve percent of CFOs anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance staff and 6 percent plan to decrease personnel levels, yielding a net 6 percent of companies planning to hire in the next three months.
 
"Companies in the West South Central states report demand for accounting operations professionals who can help them ensure timely payment and collection of bills as business activity gains momentum," Messmer said. "Manufacturing, health care, and energy are among the sectors driving hiring activity within the region."
 
Firms in the Mountain states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) and New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) also expect hiring activity above the national average. A net 2 percent of executives in both of these sections of the country said they plan to boost staff levels in the coming quarter.
 
CFOs in the transportation industry are most optimistic about their hiring plans for the third quarter, with a net 5 percentforecasting personnel increases. Hiring among manufacturing firms also is expected to outpace the national average, with a net 3 percent of executives in the sector anticipating adding staff.
 
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