Construction Industry; Finance, Insurance And Real Estate Sector To See Strongest Gains

MENLO PARK, CA -- Hiring of accounting and finance professionals in the third quarter of 2002 will remain little changed from the second quarter of this year, according to the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index. Of the chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed, 8 percent plan to expand their accounting and finance departments and 5 percent expect staff reductions. The net 3 percent increase is down one percentage point from the second-quarter forecast. The majority of respondents, 84 percent, 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 the accounting, finance and information technology fields.

"While continued economic recovery is widely expected, many executives are waiting for evidence of further business growth before making substantial increases in hiring," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half.

"Those firms that are adding accounting and finance staff are taking a very strategic and cautious approach," he added. Messmer noted that experienced accounts receivable and credit and collections personnel are in strongest demand as companies take steps to resolve outstanding receivables.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in the Pacific1 states are most optimistic about employment activity in the third quarter. Ten percent of financial executives expect to add staff and 2 percent foresee personnel reductions, for a net hiring increase of 8 percent.

"This area of the country benefits from a diverse economy," Messmer said. "While the technology sector has seen slowdowns, other industries such as health care, real estate, defense and biotechnology are driving growth. Accounting and finance professionals with experience in these fields are in particularly strong demand."

The Mountain2 and East South Central3 regions of the United States also projected net hiring gains above the national average. CFOs in each region foresee a net 5 percent hiring increase in the third quarter.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

Financial executives in the construction industry projected the highest net increase in hiring for the third quarter. Sixteen percent of respondents in this sector planned to hire accounting and finance staff, while 6 percent said they intend to cut staff, for a net hiring increase of 10 percent.

The finance, insurance and real estate sector, which had the strongest forecast in the last quarter's survey, was also stronger than the national average, with CFOs projecting a net hiring increase of 9 percent.

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® and RHI 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 at its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at


Chart: Financial Hiring Index

Chart: Financial Hiring Index by Region

Chart: Financial Hiring Index by Industry


1Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington
2Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
3Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee

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