Executives at midsize U.S. companies are less optimistic than they were a year ago about their hiring plans as they focus on managing costs, according to a Deloitte survey released Monday.
The percentage of midmarket executives expecting to grow their U.S. workforce dropped to 42% compared with 48% in 2011, Deloitte reported in its "Mid-Market Perspectives: 2012 Report on America's Economic Engine" survey.
Deloitte defined midmarket companies as firms with annual revenues between $50 million and $1 billion.
Of the 528 U.S. executives responding to the survey, 86% said continued economic uncertainty has dampened their expectations for economic growth this year.
"Because of the significantly slower growth than we've seen in previous recoveries, midmarket executives are increasingly cautious about their expectations for 2012," said Tom McGee, national managing partner for Deloitte Growth Enterprises Services. "Midmarket companies are now trying to meet the challenges of this volatile economy by taking a more adaptable approach to managing certain key business fundamentals."
Instead of adding headcount, 51% of midmarket employers plan to invest in their existing workforce through training, up from 34% last year.
Midsize employers who are expecting to fill positions say they're having trouble finding skilled talent, particularly in engineering, health care and information technology functions, according to the report.
The volatile global economy has executives at midsize firms focused on balance-sheet health and investments.
Thirty-five percent of respondents project higher cash balances in 2012. Another 90% say their capital investments will grow or at least remain stable.
Technology investments are expected to remain strong, particularly in the areas of process automation, cloud computing and software as a service.