More than half of chief financial officers at smaller companies say they plan to hire additional workers in the near future.
According to the latest quarterly survey of CFOs conducted by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business, 56.5 percent of CFOs said they plan to hire more people in the next six months. A little more than 28 percent said they have no hiring plans while the rest said it is too soon to determine.
This is the first time the question was asked in the survey, so it is impossible to determine whether CFOs are warming up to hiring new people or losing interest.
In general, however, the finance executives are not very hopeful about the overall employment picture in the country. The survey participants forecast a 9.4 percent unemployment rate for six months from now; it is currently 9.6 percent. They also only expect the rate to drop to 9 percent one year from now.
The survey participants mostly represent small to mid-size privately-held companies.
Around 80 percent or so of the firms have less than $500 million in revenue and nearly half have less than $100 million in revenue. More than half (54 percent) have fewer than 500 employees and nearly eight of 10 (79.9 percent) are privately held.
In any case, the CFOs who participated in the survey are apparently more upbeat than they were three months ago.
For example, the Optimism Index climbed after surprisingly falling in the prior survey. In addition, CFOs reported being more optimistic about their own companies than they were at the end of the second quarter.
"The increase in CFOs' confidence in October is promising news, especially compared with the alarming dip the index experienced in the second quarter," said John Elliott, Dean of the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, in a press release.
Probably the most disturbing result of the survey is the CFOs' thoughts on having a succession plan for their own jobs.
More than 70 percent admitted their company does not have a plan in place. What's more, nearly one-third of the survey participants don't even believe they need one.
This would be scarier if a majority of the companies represented in the survey were public.