CFOs see wages rising

The nation’s chief financial officers expect wages to accelerate as the economy continues to improve.

The latest survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine released Wednesday found that 70 percent of chief financial officers at U.S. companies expect wages to rise at least 3 percent, which would be ahead of the anticipated rate of inflation.

Wages are expected to rise because of labor market pressures, including the difficulty of hiring and retaining qualified workers.

John Graham, a finance professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and director of the survey, said in a prepared statement that after years of wage stagnation “we are starting to see wage growth for employees that outstrips inflation. Given that CFOs expect continued strong employment growth, it is surprising that wage pressures are not even greater.”

The survey of 575 CFOs in the U.S. and Canada, which concluded March 6, also found that on a scale of 0 to 100 financial executives rate the outlook for the U.S. economy at 65 – the highest level since the recession struck.

On the down side, however, about two-thirds of the CFOs at firms with significant overseas sale say that the strong U.S. dollar is hurting their business. Nearly one-fourth of exporters who rely on overseas sales for at least 25 percent of their business report reducing plans for capital spending as a result.