Slight increase in net hiring projected for first time since Q1 2009

Hiring in accounting and finance is expected to increase slightly in the fourth quarter, according to the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index.

Eight percentof chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said they plan to hire full-time accounting and finance employees during the fourth quarter, while 7 percentexpect staff reductions. The net 1 percentincrease in hiring activity is the first net increase since the first quarter of 2009. Most CFOs, 84 percent, expect no changes to their personnel levels.
 
Business confidence is strong among the group, according to the survey. A significant majority (86 percent) of executives interviewed are at least somewhat optimistic about the outlook for their businesses, including 39 percentwho are very confident.
 
“While employers remain cautious about adding staff, more firms also are concerned they could miss out on business opportunities by not having adequate human resources in place,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Rising customer demands are placing added pressure on companies that made deep personnel cuts in recent years. Some businesses not in a position to hire full time are addressing the gap by bringing in professionals on a temporary or project basis.”
 
The West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) states are projected to see the most active hiring in the fourth quarter, with a net 6 percentof CFOs in the region expecting to add full-time accounting and finance employees.
 
“Retail, manufacturing, health care, and oil and gas services companies in the region are rebuilding their teams,” Messmer said. “Demand is particularly strong for operational and staff-level accounting roles.”
 
The Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) states also are expected to see above-average hiring activity. A net 5 percentof CFOs in the region expect to add personnel.
 
In the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, 5 percent of CFOs expect to increase personnel levels, while 3 percent anticipate a decrease.
 
CFOs in both the manufacturing and wholesale sectors are optimistic about their hiring plans for the fourth quarter, with a net 4 percentof executives in each industry forecasting increases in personnel levels. Thirteen percentof manufacturing respondents anticipate expanding their teams and 9 percentexpect staff reductions. In the wholesale sector, 9 percent of CFOs surveyed plan staff additions, while 5 percentsaid they will decrease headcount.
 
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 staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the U.S. since 1992.
 
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