Economy Adds 271,000 Jobs in October, Including 3,400 in Accounting

The economy added a surprisingly robust 271,000 jobs in October, including 3,400 jobs in accounting and bookkeeping services, sending the unemployment rate down one-tenth of a percent to 5.0 percent, the lowest rate in seven years.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the job gains mainly occurred in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.

Employment in professional and business services, which includes accounting, bookkeeping along with other services, increased by 78,000 in October, compared with an average gain of 52,000 per month over the prior 12 months.

In October, average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents to $25.20. Hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent over the course of the year.

The job gains in August were revised upward from 136,000 to 153,000, while the change for September was revised downward from 142,000 to 137,000. With these revisions, employment gains in August and September combined were 12,000 more than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 187,000 per month.

"This is a better report than we have come to expect,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the new chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement. “Right now, however, there are still far too many people on the sidelines, and much more work needs to be done to lift the paychecks of our workforce. We can do so much better. America needs a pro-growth agenda and House Republicans under Speaker [Paul] Ryan are committed to it. As chairman of Ways and Means, I will work to fix our broken tax code so we can expand economic opportunity for workers and help families get ahead.”

Hiring is likely to remain robust for accountants. “For the accounting and financial professionals that are looking for a job right now, if they want a job, they will have a job,” said Kim Gottschalk, senior regional vice president for the Midwest at the staffing company Accounting Principals. “If they are employable, there is a job for them. Companies are hiring accountants at all levels, and oftentimes most of the companies are competing for the same talent. For any position in accounting right now, we have multiple openings for all of those positions, and fewer candidates than we have openings. It is a candidate-driven market. It is much harder for the companies, the CFOs, the controllers, to find the top talent that matches what they’re looking for. In many cases we have to educate the company on what the reality is. If they can be flexible and are willing to train people to get good talent, that’s what we’re suggesting.”

Because of the increased competition for talent, Accounting Principals anticipates an average salary increase of 2.4 percent going into 2016 according to its salary guide, but salary won’t be the only incentive for hiring talent. “It’s not always the answer to throw money at it,” said Gottschalk. “There are things companies can do to attract and retain professionals, specifically smart finance professionals. For many of our best people, money is not the number one. When I talk to most candidates, money is high on the list, but either benefits or work/life balance are a popular buzzword that not only Generation Y and Millennials use.”

Major accounting firms have also ramped up their hiring to attract the best talent. Ernst & Young, for example, plans to hire approximately 17,200 employees in fiscal year 2016, which began this past July 1, including about 6,950 experienced professionals and nearly 10,250 students. The new hires of experienced professionals represent a 62 percent increase from three years, according to Larry Nash, Americas director of experienced and executive recruiting at EY.

“These are above entry-level positions,” he said. “They are full-time jobs, and they are pretty well paying jobs. Our sector, if you look at the BLS report, continues to add jobs to the economy and that sector has been consistently adding jobs for a few years now. That correlates to our hiring, as our hiring has increased over the last four years.”

Nash said EY has been hiring across all of its business lines, including assurance, tax, advisory and transactions. “All of these groups are growing tremendously,” he added. “Our advisory group is certainly growing revenue-wise at a higher pace and that’s also driving a higher demand for talent. At the entry level, we still hire more for our audit practice. But on the experienced side, as we’re expanding into new services, we need to bring in more experienced talent.”

Several trends are driving the growth in advisory services at EY, including new regulations and technologies, Nash pointed out. “Some of the groups growing really fast are cloud computing, cybersecurity and anything around ecommerce,” said Nash. “Those groups within our advisory practice are definitely growing, and those skill sets are at times hard to find.”

He acknowledged that many types of organizations are looking for similar people and skills. “It does get very competitive, but we do have a very strong brand,” said Nash.

EY leverages employee referrals to help find talent. “We’ve invested a lot in our referral program,” said Nash. “Half our external hires now come from employee referrals. It’s a tremendous benefit for us to get people who they can vouch for and who they think will help us make our organization even better. That’s a key way we find people.”

The firm also has a talent acquisition team. “Their focus is on finding and sourcing talent and building a pipeline of talent continuously,” said Nash. “They use a variety of means to do that. That’s helped us get introduced to people. Then as they hear our value proposition, what our purpose is and understand our culture and career development opportunities, we’re able to win and hire a lot of really talented people.”

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