The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that nonfarm payroll employment increased by only 113,000 jobs last month, as severe winter weather took a toll on hiring.
Nevertheless, the unemployment rate dipped by one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.6 percent, as more workers dropped out of the labor force. On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on an extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, leaving an estimated 1.7 million of the long-term unemployed without jobless benefits.
Employment grew in accounting and bookkeeping services by 5,000 after an unusual drop in December of 32,000 jobs, which is likely to be revised. There were also job gains in the construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade and mining sectors.
“If you look at the numbers and drill down, we’re seeing a pretty good pickup in what we would see as traditionally slower months, which is November, December and January,” said Trent Beekman, senior vice president at the staffing company Accounting Principals. “In the permanent placement side of our business, skilled finance and accounting people are still in a very high level of demand from our client base. The market continues to be very favorable in those sectors, which is anything from a degreed entry-level accountant all the way up to a mid- to executive level. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of slowdown in any particular industry. Construction, professional services, oil and gas are still hot markets. The demand we see shows there is not as much supply, which makes it a favorable a candidate-based market. That’s continued to be pretty strong for the last 18 to 24 months.”
His company has also seen the typical pickup in seasonal demand for temporary help in audit, tax and budgeting around this time of year. “That’s a time when temporary and seasonal employment picks up because of the demand for tax, really until sometime through the extension period,” he added.