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Accountants Grim on Job Prospects, but Most Think They Won’t be Laid Off

The financial crisis isn’t just sapping banks’ balance sheets. It’s also undermining finance workers’ confidence.

September 16, 2011
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The financial crisis isn’t just sapping banks’ balance sheets. It’s also undermining finance workers’ confidence, according to a professional placement firm’s survey.

The Accounting and Finance Employee Confidence Index, a measure of workers’ assessment of their job prospects as well as their views on the economy, fell to a new low of 42.6 in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Mergis Group, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based staffing company.

Three-quarters of finance and accounting workers polled said the economy is weakening, compared with 64 percent a quarter earlier, according to the survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive. A similar proportion of respondents said they saw fewer job opportunities in their field, compared with 55 percent in the third quarter.

The index’s reading has fallen for five straight quarters after peaking at 67.5 in the third quarter of 2007, according to a Mergis Group spokeswoman.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the nonprofit organization whose members are the semi-official arbiters of when recessions begin and end, announced last month that the current downturn began in December 2007.

Despite their generally bearish outlook, the workers surveyed were bulls when it came to their own companies. Two-thirds said they were confident of their employer’s prospects, and three-quarters said they believed it was unlikely they would be laid off.

That’s good news, because the share who said they weren’t confident they would be able to find a new job if necessary jumped 8 percentage points from the third quarter, to 23 percent.

Companies cut some 148,000 finance-related jobs in 2008, the U.S. Labor Department reported this month. On Wall Street, job losses from 2008 to 2011 could total 82,300, according to New York City’s Independent Budget Office.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, polled 397 accounting and finance workers. No margin of error was given.

Filed by Tim Catts of Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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