Finance Pros Predict Little Hiring in 2010

More evidence that the U.S. may be facing a jobless recovery emerged Thursday as the Association of Financial Professionals reported that more than a quarter of surveyed respondents say their companies will continue to cut payrolls in 2010, and only 25% expect their payroll numbers to return to pre-recession levels by 2011. What's even more disturbing is that 30% of financial professionals surveyed don't ever expect their companies to return to pre-recessionary payroll levels.The fact that CFOs, treasurers and other senior finance executives across a broad range of industries are pessimistic about hiring picking up next year doesn't bode well for the recovery. Executives polled in the AFP 2010 Business Outlook Survey hold corporate purse strings, and no hiring decisions are likely to be made without their approval. With 46% of those surveyed expecting workforce levels to remain stable next year, and another 25% expecting to cut workers, reports of positive job growth from pundits like former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who recently said he expected jobs "to come back fairly quickly," seem less credible.

Reacting to the survey's sentiment on hiring, AFP President and CEO Jim Kaitz said his group would "work with policymakers to ensure that legislative initiatives have a positive impact on potential job growth."

With their dim expectations for job growth in 2010, financial executives aren't very optimistic that U.S. economic growth will return quickly either. More than half don't see economic growth beginning until the second half of 2010, and nearly a quarter say there won't be growth until 2011 at the earliest. If they are right, the better-than-expected turnaround that some have reported recently, becomes harder to imagine.

The AFP survey also shows that financial professionals believe that if the tight credit market doesn't improve, more cutbacks, including slashing workforces, can be expected. Nearly 70% said they would consider reducing capital spending, 62% would freeze or reduce hiring, 33% would close locations, and 25% would reduce inventory. Only a quarter of those surveyed expect their company's access to credit to improve next year.
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