Survey Shows Highest Net Increase In Expected Hiring Since Mid-2001

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are showing more optimism about their hiring plans for the second quarter of 2004, according to the just-released Robert Half Financial Hiring Index. Seven percent of executives surveyed say they expect to add staff during the second quarter, while just 1 percent anticipate reductions in personnel. The net 6 percent increase in hiring activity is up four percentage points from the first-quarter estimate and represents the highest net increase projected by CFOs in the survey since the third quarter of 2001. Ninety percent of respondents anticipate no change in hiring.

The national poll includes responses from 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, the world's largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting, finance and information technology. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

"The net hiring increase has risen steadily for the past three quarters," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. "Companies are still cautious in their approach to hiring, but many recognize additional accounting and finance personnel can help them address workloads postponed during the downturn. Other firms seek qualified assistance in effecting corporate governance reforms and ensuring more accurate financial reporting."

Forty-six percent of CFOs with plans to hire accounting and finance professionals during the second quarter said business expansion is the primary reason, up from 37 percent in the first quarter. Twenty-six percent of executives cited staffing issues such as turnover and the need for specialized expertise, while 15 percent said their primary motivation is heavier workloads.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in the Middle Atlantic1 and Pacific2 states anticipate the most active financial hiring activity during the second quarter. Nine percent of CFOs in the Middle Atlantic region plan to add full-time staff and none anticipate personnel reductions. In the Pacific region, 11 percent of executives said they would be hiring, while 2 percent expect to decrease staff.

"Healthcare, manufacturing, distribution and financial services firms in the Mid-Atlantic states are beginning to lift hiring freezes that have been in place for the last several years," Messmer said. "In particular, companies are seeking financial analysts, internal auditors, and tax and cost accountants. In the Pacific region, expansion at financial services institutions as well as a still-strong real estate industry are driving demand for professionals with banking- and mortgage-related expertise."

Hiring within the South Atlantic3 and West North Central4 regions is also expected to outpace the national average, with net increases in financial hiring of 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Hiring during the second quarter is forecast to be most active among finance, insurance and real estate companies and in the wholesale industry, with a net 9 percent hiring increase projected in both industry categories. Ten percent of financial executives with finance, insurance and real estate firms expect to hire personnel, while 1 percent anticipate staff reductions. Within the wholesale industry, 13 percent of CFOs plan to add full-time employees and 4 percent expect a decrease in personnel.

The manufacturing, retail and business-services industries also project financial hiring activity above the national average. Manufacturing and retail executives both forecast a net 8 percent hiring increase in the second quarter. CFOs of business-services firms expect a net 7 percent increase in hiring activity.


Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring By Region

Financial Hiring By Industry


Robert Half was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps®, Robert Half® Finance & Accounting and Robert Half® Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company has more than 325 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at


1 New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania

2 Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

3 Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

4 Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

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