The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 last month, including 5,200 in accounting and bookkeeping on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.4 percent. Employment in professional and business services continued to trend upward last month, adding 39,000 jobs. The industry has added 612,000 jobs over the past 12 months. While accounting and bookkeeping services added 5,200 jobs last month on a seasonally adjusted basis, there was a loss of 9,800 jobs without a seasonal adjustment, from 1,106,100 to 1,096,300.

Still, accountants remain in high demand as the overall economy continues to add jobs. “There’s no doubt that there’s some positivity here, said Kim Gottschalk, senior vice president of the staffing company Accounting Principals. “At 4.4 percent, it’s the lowest unemployment rate overall in a decade, and professional services is definitely where we’re seeing gains.”

Some of the areas of accounting and finance where her company is seeing the most robust growth are in financial planners, financial analysts, accountants and auditors. “That’s not unlike what we’ve traditionally been seeing on average in terms of growth,” said Gottschalk. “These are not jobs that are going to be taken over by robots.”

Wages rose last month 2.5 percent, according to the BLS figures. Accounting Principals is predicting salary increases of up to 2.8 percent in its annual salary guide. “We don’t expect the demand to decrease,” said Gottschalk. “We are suggesting to employers to continue to sharpen their pencils and make sure that they are competitive in the areas such as wages and benefits to make sure they’re attracting the top talent that they need.”

The U.S. Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Labor Bloomberg News

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