Here is yet another reminder that job growth will continue to be slow for a period of time.
A survey by Robert Half found that an equal percentage of chief financial officers expect to boost hiring full-time accounting and finance professionals as those who plan to reduce their job ranks.
Just seven percent anticipate adding to their staff, offsetting the 7 percent that plan personnel reductions.
More significantly, Robert Half says this net 0 percent projection is actually down two points from the first-quarter 2011 forecast. Back in December, finance execs had signaled a slight increase in hiring of finance and accounting pros.
Yet, the CFOs are actually still optimistic about the outlook for their own companies. The telephone survey of more than 1,400 CFOs across the United States found that 89 percent of CFOs expressed confidence in their firms' growth potential in the second quarter. This was up one point from the first-quarter survey.
The survey's results are not atypical. Many others have shown that top executives are becoming more and more upbeat about the economy and their own company's prospects at the same time they have little plans to add to their payroll. Which explains why the experts are calling this the jobless recovery.
The big question, of course, is how long the economic recovery can persist without a meaningful drop in the unemployment rate.
"While improved business conditions are prompting some companies to add staff to keep pace with demand, many firms are still hesitant to commit to new resources at this point in the recovery," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "To maintain productivity and reduce the burden on their full-time teams, some organizations are hiring accounting and finance professionals on a project basis."
CFOs in the Pacific states seem the most upbeat. Twelve percent of CFOs plan to add full-time accounting and finance professionals and 5 percent foresee cutbacks, a net 7 percent increase.
"Many Pacific-region companies, particularly those in the manufacturing and technology sectors, are rebuilding their teams to meet renewed demand for their products and services," Messmer noted. "In particular, firms are looking for skilled financial analysts to help them control costs and prepare for potential growth."
Above-average hiring activity also is predicted in the Middle Atlantic region.