Seven percent of CFOs plan to add full-time accounting and finance employees during the second quarter, the highest forecast since the first quarter of 2009, but 8 percent expect staff reductions.

While a net decrease is projected, this is the second consecutive quarter in which the number of executives anticipating increases has risen and the percentage projecting staff cuts has fallen, according to a survey by staffing services company Robert Half International of 1,400 CFOs across the U.S. The majority of respondents, 85 percent, said they do not anticipate any changes to their personnel levels.

In addition, the survey found most CFOs are optimistic about the outlook for their businesses in the next three months. Eighty-four percent said they are at least somewhat confident in their companies’ second-quarter growth prospects; 34 percent are very confident.

“While most businesses remain cautious, some companies are beginning to hire selectively to ensure they have the employees in place to capitalize on opportunities that may arise as a result of an improving economy,” said Robert Half International chairman and CEO Max Messmer in a statement. “In some cases, firms are using temporary professionals to help meet workload demands and as a way to evaluate individuals for potential full-time positions.”

The Mountain states are projected to see the most active hiring in the second quarter, with a net 4 percent of CFOs in the region expecting to add full-time accounting and finance employees.

“Education and health services are among the sectors that have consistently added new jobs in the Mountain region,” Messmer noted. “Demand also is increasing for mid- to senior-level professionals in public accounting, as well as for accounts payable and receivable and cost accounting staff.”

CFOs in the business services sector are most optimistic about their hiring plans for the second quarter, with a net 2 percent of executives forecasting personnel increases. Six percent of respondents anticipate expanding their teams and 4 percent expect to reduce staff levels.

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