Chief financial officers plan to hire more accounting and finance employees in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a newly released survey.

Ten percent of the more than 1,400 CFOs surveyed by recruiter Robert Half International said they plan to expand the size of their teams in the final three months of the year. Another 5 percent anticipate making staff reductions in the fourth quarter, providing a net increase of 5 percent. In the third quarter, the hiring projections were flat, with 6 percent of CFOs predicting staff increases and 6 percent predicting reductions.

The most active hiring is expected to take place among firms with 20 to 49 employees, where a net 6 percent of CFOs project adding staff. Eleven percent of executives plan to hire full-time financial professionals and 5 percent anticipate they will decrease personnel levels.

New England and the East South Central states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee) should see the greatest gains in hiring during the fourth quarter. A net 7 percent of CFOs in each region anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance professionals.

Among industries, executives in wholesale are most optimistic about hiring. The manufacturing sector also is forecast to see hiring gains exceeding the national average.

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