Financial hiring survey shows anticipated increases for 2008

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Ten percent of chief financial officers plan to add accounting and finance staff during the first quarter of 2008 and 4 percent anticipate personnel reductions, according to the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index. The net 6 percent increase is unchanged from the fourth-quarter 2007 forecast. The majority of respondents, 86 percent, foresee no change in hiring activity.

Forty-two percent of CFOs who expect hiring increases cited rising workloads as the primary reason, while 30 percent attributed the demand to anticipated business expansion.

The national report is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

"Many employers are concerned about their ability to recruit skilled accounting and finance professionals amid continued competition for this talent," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "The demand has resulted in higher salaries for positions such as staff accountant, internal auditor and financial analyst."

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

Hiring is expected to be strongest in the West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas), where a net 12 percent of CFOs anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance professionals: 14 percent of executives surveyed will be hiring and just 2 percent project cutbacks.

"Companies in the West South Central states are hiring accounting and finance personnel to help meet expansion objectives," Messmer said. "In particular, employers seek professionals for positions in general accounting, cost accounting and tax."

Hiring activity in the Middle Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) and Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) states also is expected to exceed the national average. A net 9 percent of CFOs in the Middle Atlantic region and 8 percent in the Pacific states expect to add staff during the quarter.

Robert Half has conducted additional CFO interviews in major metropolitan areas to provide snapshots of financial hiring trends in these markets. You can see the local results .

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Among all industries, executives in the business services sector are most optimistic about hiring. A net 15 percent of CFOs from business services firms expect to hire additional staff in the first quarter.

Above-average hiring activity also is expected in manufacturing: 12 percent of executives said they plan to expand their accounting and finance teams during the first quarter and 3 percent foresee personnel reductions, a net 9 percent increase.

Financial Hiring: By Region

Percentage Increase Decrease No Change Undecided Total
United States 10 4 86 0 100
New England 6 5 89 0 100
Middle Atlantic 13 4 83 0 100
South Atlantic 7 4 89 0 100
East N. Central 10 3 87 0 100
West N. Central 9 4 87 0 100
East S. Central 3 3 94 0 100
West S. Central 14 2 84 0 100
Mountain 8 8 82 2 100
Pacific 12 4 84 0 100
New England: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
Middle Atlantic: NJ, NY, PA
South Atlantic: DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV
East North Central: IL, IN, MI, OH, WI
West North Central: IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD
East South Central: AL, KY, MS, TN
West South Central: AR, LA, OK, TX
Mountain: AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY
Pacific: AK, CA, HI, OR, WA

Financial Hiring: By Industry

Percentage Increase Decrease No Change Undecided Total
United States 10 4 86 0 100
Manufacturing 12 3 85 0 100
Retail 9 8 83 0 100
Fin., Ins. & R. Estate 11 8 81 0 100
Prof. Services 10 4 86 0 100
Construction 7 1 92 0 100
Wholesale 6 1 92 1 100
Transportation 5 0 94 1 100
Bus. Services 15 0 85 0 100
Comparative Data: Two-Year History of the Financial Hiring Index
Quarter Percent Increase Percent Decrease Net Increase
1Q08 10 4 6
4Q07 9 3 6
3Q07 6 3 3
2Q07 7 2 5
1Q07 6 3 3
4Q06 6 2 4
3Q06 7 3 4
2Q06 5 4 1
1Q06 8 8 0

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