Hiring activity in accounting and finance is expected to remain at its current pace in the first quarter of 2008, according to a newly released survey of CFOs.

Ten percent of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed by recruiter Robert Half International said they plan to add accounting and finance staff during the first quarter, while 4 percent anticipate personnel reductions. The net 6 percent increase is unchanged from the fourth-quarter 2007 forecast. Eighty-six percent of the CFOs surveyed foresee no change in hiring activity.

Forty-two percent of the CFOs who expect to increase hiring cited rising workloads as the main reason, while 30 percent attributed the demand to anticipated business expansion.

Hiring is expected to be strongest in the West South Central region, where 14 percent of the CFOs expect to add full-time accounting and finance professionals and 2 percent predict cutbacks. Hiring in the Middle Atlantic also is expected to exceed the national average. Executives in the business services sector are the most optimistic about hiring. A net 15 percent of CFOs from business services firms expect to hire additional staff in the first quarter.

Despite the results from Robert Half, another survey, by the recruiting company Hudson, saw increasing signs of worry among accounting and finance workers. Confidence fell for the fourth consecutive month, according to the Hudson Employment Index, sliding 16 points to 93.0 in November. The number of accounting and finance workers who said their financial situation was improving plummeted 11 points to 36 percent, the lowest number on record.

Meanwhile, the number of workers who said their personal finances were getting worse rose nine points to 43 percent, according to Hudson. Expected hiring slipped four points to 25 percent in November, falling nine points since July. Twenty percent of workers were worried about losing their jobs in November, compared to 17 percent in October. Fewer workers were happy with their jobs, falling two points to 74 percent.

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