Greatest Job Growth Forecast For Business Services Sector, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- The hiring of accounting and finance professionals is expected to remain at its current pace in the first quarter of 2003, according to the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index. Eight percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed plan to expand their accounting and finance departments, and 4 percent expect staff reductions. The majority of respondents, 86 percent, anticipate no change in hiring.

The net 4 percent hiring increase is the same as the fourth-quarter forecast and is one point above hiring projections for this time last year. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

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 the accounting, finance and information technology fields.

"Employers are making judicious hiring decisions as they await stronger signs of economic recovery," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. "Many companies are resolving their pent-up need for finance and accounting staff by strategically adding professionals with in-demand skill sets, who may be more difficult to recruit once the market improves."

CFOs planning to hire additional accounting and finance personnel in the first quarter of 2003 reported that the primary factor driving the need for more staff is anticipated business growth (67 percent). This was followed by executives who are adding accounting staff as a precautionary measure to ensure the integrity of their companies financial reporting (15 percent). CFOs also cited fiscal activities and major initiatives as reasons they're ramping up staff levels. (See chart.)

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

Financial executives in the South Atlantic1 and Pacific2 states expect to see the greatest hiring activity during the first quarter, with a net hiring increase of 8 percent projected for each region. Ten percent of CFOs in the South Atlantic region anticipate increasing their staff, while 2 percent plan staff reductions. Twelve percent of financial executives in the Pacific states expect to bring on new employees, and 4 percent plan to reduce the size of their current accounting and finance departments.

"Businesses in the South Atlantic region are experiencing demand for financial analysts and senior and staff accountants," Messmer said. "The Pacific states are seeing increased need for job candidates who are skilled in forecasting, budget control and collections, as many firms continue to focus on cost control and cash-flow improvement."

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Financial executives in the business services3 sector project the highest net increase in hiring for the first quarter. Thirteen percent of respondents plan to hire accounting and finance staff while just 2 percent intend to cut staff, for a net hiring increase of 11 percent. This is the first time a double-digit increase in hiring activity has been forecast for the business services sector since the second quarter of 2001.

Solid gains are also expected among finance, insurance and real estate firms, as well as retail businesses -- CFOs in both industry sectors project a net 10 percent increase in hiring activity.

Robert Half was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RHI). 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 Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

2Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

3 Advertising, Personnel Services, Data Processing, Repair Services, Motion Pictures and Amusement and Recreation Services


Financial Hiring Index

Financial Hiring Index -- Reasons For Hiring

Financial Hiring Index -- By Region

Financial Hiring Index -- By Industry

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