The employment sector for professionals continues to look mixed as executives report recruiting difficulties and the possibility of layoffs.

While 10 percent of executives said they plan to increase the number of full-time employees during the second quarter, 6 percent still plan declines. But 82 percent interviewed for the Robert Half Professional Employment Report expressed confidence in their companies’ prospects for growth in the next quarter.

Other key findings from the report:

  • Executives in finance, insurance and real estate plan to do the most hiring of professional staff, with a net 9 percent projecting hiring increases.
  • The West North Central, West South Central and Mountain regions showed the most promise
  • The legal field is expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with 26 percent expecting to increase staff levels.
  • Nearly four in 10 executive said it is challenging to find skilled professionals.