One-fifth of executives interviewed for the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index said they plan to have full-time accounting and finance employees in the first quarter of 2012, helping drive the third consecutive quarter of sequential growth.
Eleven percent of respondents forecast staff decreases, leaving a net 9 percent increase, up four points from the fourth-quarter 2011 survey.
The South Atlantic region — which includes Virginia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. — had one of the highest net increases at 15 percent. Only the Mountain region — Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — had a higher net increase at 16 percent.
Although hiring plans are increasing, companies face problems in finding the right people to fill key positions. Nearly three-quarters (68 percent) of executives reported recruiting challenges, a 9-percent increase from the fourth quarter and a 27-percent increase from the third quarter.
"Competition for the best employees is intensifying, and, at the same time, these professionals are beginning to feel increasingly comfortable exploring new roles at other firms," Robert Half International Chairman and CEO Max Messmer said. "Businesses are still selective when hiring but understand they need to move quickly once the right candidate is identified."