DURHAM –  Three-fourths of CFOs of U.S.-based businesses noted difficulty in hiring workers, even as firms have increased wages, a recently released survey of U.S. CFOs conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta found.

The survey, released in October, found that 74% of CFOs reported that their companies are having difficulty filling open positions.  Of those, 82% have increased starting wages, by an average of 9.8%, in an effort to fill the vacancies.

The percentage of firms reporting labor quality and availability as a most pressing concern was virtually unchanged between the survey conducted in the second quarter and the survey conducted in the third quarter, according to the data, at 27.2% of respondents for the third quarter and at 27.3% of respondents in the second quarter.

But the number of CFOs reporting that supply chain disruptions are a most pressing concern for their firms increased in the third quarter, with 16.4% of respondents indicating that supply chain issues are now a most pressing concern compared to 11.7% of respondents in the second-quarter survey.

Image and data source: Duke University, FRB Richmond and FRB Atlanta, The CFO Survey – Q3 2021 (September 20 to October 1, 2021).

The survey also found that larger firms are more likely than smaller firms to take action to adjust their supply chains.  That includes actions like such as holding more inventory, diversifying or reconfiguring supply chains, moving production closer to the U.S., or changing shipping logistics, as described in a news release from the survey’s collaborators.

“The actions that these companies are taking to manage supply chain disruptions are costly and hence increase the pressure on companies to increase prices,” said John Graham, a Duke University Fuqua School of Business professor of finance.  “What is more, these supply chain challenges are shaving 5 percent off their revenue growth, on average.”

Furthermore, some 10% of all survey respondents are expecting resolution to existing supply chain difficulties by the end of this year, the survey found, with most respondents anticipating resolution during the second half of 2022 or later.

The survey also asked CFOs about their level of optimism about the U.S. economy and their own firms’ outlook  Optimism fell to 59.9 from 69.0 on the U.S. economy and to 70.2 from 74.9 for their own firms, according to the survey data.


Labor shortages, inflation worry execs most in new Duke survey