Right now, CFOs are the most positive they've been on the U.S. economy since 2008.
This confidence, captured in the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 CFO Outlook, extends to the hiring forecast: 9 out of 10 executives said in the annual survey that they expect to increase or maintain the size of their workforce. Many companies may need that extra personnel, as more than half of the CFOs predict higher sales in 2014, driven by increased demand from existing customers and greater expansion into international markets.
There's one catch: Amid the positive views, one very big risk has captured CFOs' attention, and it's tied directly to the workforce, and health care benefits in particular: unanticipated labor costs. Eight out of 10 executives said they were somewhat or very concerned. That outpaced market risks, operational risks, succession planning and several other concerns.