Majority of CFOs Anticipate Economic Growth by Second Quarter of 2003, Survey Finds

MENLO PARK, CA -- Next spring may bring more than a promise of warmer weather. In a new survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), 51 percent of respondents said they believe the nation's economy will start improving by the second quarter of 2003. In addition, 41 percent of financial executives said they plan at least some business expansion in 2003, while only 8 percent foresee cutbacks.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, North America's largest consulting services firm providing senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, "In which quarter do you expect to see signs of economic growth in the US?" Their responses:

Currently fourth quarter    6%
First quarter 2003 13%
Second quarter 2003 32%
Third quarter 2003 18%
Fourth quarter 2003 9%
First quarter 2004 8%
After first quarter 2004                                 2%
Other/don't know  12%

CFOs were also asked, "To what extent do you intend to expand or cut back on your business operations in 2003?" Their responses:

Major expansion planned 7%
Some expansion planned 34%
No plans for either expansion or cutbacks    48%
Some cutbacks planned 7%
Major cutbacks planned 1%
Don't know/no answer   3%

"More than 40 percent of financial executives polled are preparing for at least some company expansion in the coming year, and only 8 percent anticipate scaling back on business operations," said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "This would seem to indicate confidence in an economic rebound in 2003."

McDonald advises organizations to take steps now to address human resources needs. "By reviewing planned initiatives and historical business trends, companies can prepare for the inevitable workload increases that accompany expansion activity."

Robert Half Management Resources has locations in major cities throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and offers online job search services at




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