Mountain States And Retail Industry Most Optimistic About Employment Growth

MENLO PARK, CA -- Chief financial officers (CFOs) anticipate a slowdown in the hiring of accounting and finance professionals in the first quarter of 2002, according to the just-released Robert Half Financial Hiring Index. Seven percent of CFOs surveyed said their companies expect to add accounting and finance staff, and 4 percent foresee personnel reductions. Eighty-three percent of executives project no change in hiring activity.

The net 3 percent hiring increase is one percentage point lower than the previous quarter’s forecast, and five points below the same period last year. The outlook is the weakest since September 1992, when the company began tracking financial hiring activity in the United States.

The national poll includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of 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.

"The uncertain economic climate is contributing to the slowdown in financial hiring activity," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. "Companies are making more cautious staffing decisions, and are frequently opting to maintain existing personnel levels rather than hire new employees."

Messmer noted that as businesses focus on improving cash flow, demand has risen for financial analysts and credit and collections specialists.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region

CFOs in the Mountain1 states are most optimistic about hiring in the first quarter. Thirteen percent of executives plan to expand their accounting and finance departments, and 3 percent forecast staff reductions, for a net hiring increase of 10 percent. "Growth in the region’s financial services and construction industries is creating a need for additional accounting support at all levels," Messmer said.

Financial executives in the East South Central2 and West North Central3 states also anticipate employment gains above the national average. CFOs in both regions forecast a net 6 percent increase in accounting and finance hiring.

Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry

The retail sector will lead the country in financial hiring activity in the first quarter of 2002, according to the survey. Thirteen percent of CFOs in the retail industry plan to expand their accounting and finance departments, and 4 percent expect staff cutbacks, for a net hiring increase of 9 percent.

Employment growth is also expected to exceed the national average among business services firms, where financial executives project a net 7 percent increase in hiring. CFOs in the transportation sector anticipate a net hiring increase of 6 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 330 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at


Chart: Financial Hiring Index

Chart: Financial Hiring Index By Region

Chart: Financial Hiring Index By Industry

1 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
2 Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
3 Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

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