The U.S. economy is poised for a strong recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, but faces fresh risks from a hiring shortage and a surge in consumer prices, according to a survey of American CFOs.
Although 75% of CFOs surveyed by the Deloitte Global CFO Program said that economic conditions in North America are "good" – an increase from 29% in the first three months of the year – talent concerns and inflation have emerged as new threats to the outlook.
Respondents ranked talent, including recruiting and retention, skills development, capacity and availability, as the most worrisome internal economic risk. The CFOs said that economic stability and inflation were the most concerning external risks, followed by potential changes in government policies and a resurgence of COVID-19.
"Amid the improving economy and many companies’ plans to reopen offices and expand operations, CFOs expressed concerns over changes in employees’ preferences for workplace and work style. They also report concerns over recruiting, retaining, and developing talent, as well as capacity and labor shortages," the report, released Monday, said.
The study, conducted between May 3-14, involved 138 CFOs, 70% from public companies and 30% from privately held companies.
The analysis comes on the heels of lackluster job growth in both April and May, despite a record number of open positions. Republican lawmakers and other critics have blamed the Biden administration's stimulus bill, which boosted state unemployment benefits by an extra $300 a week, for the anemic hiring figures.
At least 25 states, all led by GOP governors, have announced plans to end the federal benefit over the summer, a move they say will help businesses that are struggling to hire workers.
Experts say there are multiple reasons for the anemic job growth, including safety concerns over contracting COVID-19, a lack of child care options and the boosted jobless aid.
Although some Democrats want to extend the sweetened aid beyond September, when it's poised to expire, President Biden indicated recently that he does not think that's necessary.
"A temporary boost in unemployment benefits that we enacted helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who still may be in the process of getting vaccinated," he said. "But it's going to expire in 90 days — it makes sense it expires in 90 days."