The resulting net 7% increase in hiring activity is up four points from the third-quarter forecast. The portion (82%) of hiring executives saying they anticipate no change in staff levels is down from 90% three months ago.
Meanwhile, 59% of executives interviewed for the report said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today, up 17 points from the third quarter.
Fourth quarter hiring projections were higher than the third quarter forecast in nearly all professional segments.
The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 C-level executives and other leaders from a variety of fields throughout the U.S., who were asked about their hiring plans and general level of optimism for the upcoming quarter. Survey respondents include more than 1,400 chief financial officers (CFOs); 1,400 chief information officers (CIOs); 500 senior human resources managers; 100 lawyers at law firms and 100 corporate lawyers; and 125 advertising executives and 375 marketing executives, all of whom have hiring authority.
Other key findings from the survey include:
• The legal and marketing fields are expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 24% of lawyers and a net 20% of marketing and advertising executives planning to increase staff levels.
• Businesses in the East North Central states project the most active hiring, with a net 13% of executives planning to add professional-level staff in the fourth quarter.
• A net 12% of executives in the finance, insurance, and real estate sector anticipate staff additions, the most of any industry.
• Forty-six percent of executives said they are “very confident” in their organizations’ ability to grow in the fourth quarter, and an equal number said they are “somewhat confident.”
“Businesses are focusing their full-time hiring efforts on positions that create efficiencies as well as those that support and guide growth,” said Max Messmer, Chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, in a press release. “Professional-level candidates enjoy an advantage in today’s job market, reflected by an unemployment rate for college-educated workers that is roughly one-half that of the general population.”
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