Accounting Professional Confidence & Hiring Projections Increase Slightly

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Confidence among accounting and finance professionals edged up 0.4 percent during February, according to the most recent Hudson Employment Index. Thirty-five percent of those responding to the Hudson survey expected their employers to hire in February, an expectation supported by the results of the latest Robert Half International Hiring Index, which indicates that 5 percent of the chief executive officers (CFOs) surveyed plan to add to their staff, while only 4 percent plan reductions during the second quarter of 2006.

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“Many of the companies that are hiring are doing so to accommodate business expansion activities during 2006,” Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International explains in a prepared statement announcing the survey results. “Firms also are adding full-time staff and working with consulting professionals for corporate governance-related compliance and remediation initiatives.”

The Hudson Employment Index for accounting and finance workers also revealed that:

  • 21 percent of those surveyed rated their finances as excellent, up three points higher than in January and the most optimistic workers have been in this respect since June 2005.
  • 76 percent of survey respondents state that they are not worried about losing their jobs, a 2 point increase over the 74 percent reported in January.
  • Although 35 percent of survey respondents expect their firms to hire, 22 percent of those surveyed expect layoffs, a 4 percent increase over the previous month.

“On the heels of a conservative start to the year, managers are feeling more comfortable putting their 2006 hiring plans in gear,” says Steve Wolfe, executive vice president, Hudson, North America. “This news along with a strong GDP, lower unemployment rates and the growing demand for skilled labor in certain sectors, such as healthcare, financial services and IT are strong indications that the economy is growing steadily.”

The Robert Half International Hiring Index reports that executives in the Mountain region, which includes the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, anticipate the greatest hiring activity during the second quarter. Thirteen percent of CFOs polled in this region expect to add full-time accounting staff, while only 1 percent foresee decreases in staffing levels, indicating a net increase of 12 percent. Hiring in the Middle Atlantic regions, which includes the states of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, which make up the South Atlantic region, is also expected to outpace the national forecast, with a net 3 percent of CFOs in both regions responding that they anticipate bringing in additional accounting professionals during the second quarter, according to the Hiring Index.

The Robert Half International Hiring Index found that the construction industry is forecasting the greatest gains in financial hiring, with a net 7 percent of CFOs expecting to add to their full-time staff. A net 6 percent of CFOs respondents in the transportation industry anticipate hiring, as do a net 4 percent of executives surveyed from the retail.

Among CFO responding to the Robert Half International survey, 55 percent of those expecting to hire cite business growth as the primary factor fueling demand and 17 percent attributed it to rising workloads.

The Hudson Employment Index is based on monthly telephone surveys with approximately 9,000 workers. Survey results are segmented into 11 cities and five occupational sectors.

The Robert Half International Hiring Index is based on responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. The survey was developed by Robert Half International, Inc. and conducted by an independent research firm.

“Companies in the Mountain region are hiring experienced accountants to assist with growth initiatives,” Messmer explains. “There are skills shortages within some in-demand specialties. To ensure they secure commitments from top financial professionals, many employers are accelerating the recruiting process and offering more competitive salary and benefits packages.”

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