Total nonfarm employment increased by 215,000 in July, including 1,900 jobs in accounting and bookkeeping services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, although the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3 percent.

Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.9 percentage point and 1.4 million, respectively. Professional and technical services added 27,000 jobs in July, including 1,900 accounting and bookkeeping jobs.

“The numbers that come out typically lag by about 30 to 60 days what we see in the market,” said Jodi Chavez, senior vice president of Accounting Principals, a recruitment and placement firm for accounting and finance professionals. “The shortage of talent for accounting and finance positions continues to be high. I think the increase in staff added to leisure and hospitality as well as retail shows there’s definitely consumer confidence coming back because jobs are being added in those sectors. Those sectors are typically consumer-driven sectors.”

Employment in the retail trade increased by 36,000 in July, while the leisure and hospitality sector added 30,000 jobs, according to the BLS.

Accounting Principals is seeing more companies shortening the time in which they recruit temporary accounting and finance workers and converting them to full-time permanent employees. “Companies that had never used a service before to hire full-time staff are using temporary employees to help find that staff, but they’re converting them to be a permanent employee much more quickly than we’ve seen in several quarters,” said Chavez. “They’re utilizing staffing firms to find talent because there is a talent shortage. We saw during the recession that human resources departments were one of the ones that were typically downsized. As companies are trying to staff up their human resources department to handle the recruiting demands, they’re leaning more towards temporary services to help with that recruiting effort.”

Despite the talent shortage, Chavez said she has not seen much of an increase in wages for those employees. Instead companies are using other incentives such as flexible work schedules and dress codes, along with more social community activities, to attract accounting and finance workers. “Some of those are very impactful, but may not cost as much for an organization,” she noted. “Companies are highlighting those enhancements in their recruiting efforts.”

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