About 86 percent of CFOs report a desire to maintain their current staff levels in the next three months, but 2 percent predict decreases in accounting and finance personnel in the second quarter, according to a survey by staffing services company Robert Half International. 

Fifty percent of the 1,400 respondents indicated they plan to add full-time employees while 7 percent expect staff reductions.

“Businesses are increasingly reluctant to hire in the current environment, choosing instead to maintain staff levels until they see definitive signs of an improving economy,” said Robert Half International chairman and CEO Max Messmer in a statement. “Companies that are hiring are more selective because they can be—there is a larger pool of skilled applicants available. As a result, employers are taking extra time to identify and hire the best available person for each open position.”

Even with higher unemployment rates, however, some financial executives continue to report difficulty finding highly skilled professionals for certain functional areas. Twenty-five percent of CFOs interviewed cited accounting positions as the most difficult to fill, while 19 percent said they experience the greatest challenges when hiring for finance roles.

CFOs in the West South Central states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas expect the most hiring activity in the second quarter. Eleven percent of the surveyed executives plan to add employees while 7 percent forecast personnel reductions, leaving a net 4 percent of the CFOs in the region projecting they will do additional hiring of full-time accounting and finance staff.

Among industries, 6 percent of CFOs in the professional services field expect to increase hiring in the second quarter while 4 percent plan a decrease, a net increase of 2 percent. Similarly, a net increase of 2 percent of CFOs in the finance, insurance and real estate sector plan to expand their staff levels.

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