Magazine article USA TODAY

Economy Improving Slowly, but Not So Surely

Magazine article USA TODAY

Economy Improving Slowly, but Not So Surely

Article excerpt

Chief financial officers in the U.S. say they have limited plans to hire over the next 12 months, although nearly 60% will not return their staffing to pre-recession levels until perhaps 2012 or later. Benefits and wages also remain at reduced levels at many firms, and credit has stayed tight for small firms, which is hindering hiring plans and constraining growth. The recovery is not stalled completely, however, as CFOs predict strong business and earnings growth. These are just some of the findings of the most recent Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey The research has been conducted for 57 consecutive quarters.

A summary of the findings follows:

* CFOs expect to increase domestic employment by just under one percent during the next 12 months. It may be several years before employment returns to pre-recession levels, which will weigh on consumer spending. Fewer than half of companies that cut employment packages expect to restore pay, training, and benefits to their pre-recession levels during the next year.

* Borrowing conditions remain tight, with roughly an equal split between firms reporting that credit conditions have tightened and those saying credit has eased. One-third of micro-firms (100 or fewer employees) indicate that credit conditions have worsened in the past six months.

* Earnings are expected to rise 12% and capital spending nine percent in the next 12 months. Research and development and tech spending will increase four to six percent. …

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