Pacific States Predicted To See Largest Increase In Hiring Activity

MENLO PARK, CA -- Eight percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed for the Robert Half quarterly Financial Hiring Index plan to add full-time accounting staff during the first quarter of 2006, while another 8 percent anticipate personnel reductions.  Seventy-nine percent of executives polled expect no change in their staffing levels in the first three months of the new year.


The national poll includes responses from more than 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 projected net increase in hiring activity represents a 4-point decline from the fourth-quarter 2005 survey.  While the number of CFOs who plan to add staff increased by one point from the prior quarter, the level of executives anticipating cutbacks rose as well.  Five percent of executives said they are undecided about first-quarter hiring.


“Growing corporate expenses, including rising healthcare and energy costs, may be contributing to a more cautious hiring environment,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half.  “However, skilled accountants are always in demand, particularly in the current market.  Companies that proactively seek top professionals will be best prepared to take advantage of new business opportunities.”


Thirty-eight percent of executives who plan to add personnel in the first quarter said business growth was the primary factor driving demand.  Fifteen percent cited staffing issues, such as attrition, and 13 percent noted rising workloads.


Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Region
CFOs in the Pacific states[1] were the most optimistic about first-quarter hiring activity. 
Twelve percent of those polled plan to hire full-time accounting staff and 3 percent forecast decreases in personnel levels, a net 9 percent increase.


“Companies in the Pacific region, especially those in the real estate and construction industries, are adding staff to support growth initiatives,” said Messmer.  “As the competition for candidates intensifies, many firms are experiencing a shortage of skilled accounting professionals and, as a result, find they must offer higher salaries and better benefits to secure the best people.”


The South Atlantic region[2] is expected to see above-average hiring activity as well.  A net
4 percent of executives surveyed anticipate expanding their accounting departments in the coming quarter.

Robert Half has conducted additional CFO interviews in major metropolitan markets to provide more detailed analyses of financial hiring trends in these cities.  The local results are available at


Accounting and Financial Hiring -- By Industry
The retail industry is projected to outpace all other sectors in hiring activity.  A net
13 percent of CFOs with retail firms expect to bring in accounting professionals during the first quarter.  Manufacturing and finance executives also forecast growth in the coming months; a net 4 percent of respondents from each sector plan to add full-time staff.


Robert Half was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  Its financial staffing divisions include Robert Half® Finance & Accounting, Accountemps® and Robert Half® Management Resources, for full-time, temporary and senior-level project professionals, respectively.  The company has more than 330 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


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[1] Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

[2] Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

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