The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by a disappointing 160,000 jobs in April, although the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.0 percent.
It was the lowest number of jobs created since last September. The job gains in April mostly occurred in professional and business services, health care, and financial activities. However, job losses continued in mining.
Professional and business services added 65,000 jobs in April, with the industry adding an average of 51,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. In April, the job gains in that sector mainly occurred in management and technical consulting services, which added 21,000 jobs, and in computer systems design and related services, which added 7,000 jobs. Accounting and bookkeeping services added 900 jobs.
Employment in financial activities rose by 20,000 in April, with credit intermediation and related activities adding 8,000 of those jobs. The financial activities sector has added 160,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents to $25.53, following an increase of 6 cents in March. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent.
"It's always good to hear that more people went back to work, but these lackluster jobs numbers show our economy is not living up to its potential,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, in a statement. “In fact, labor force participation is headed in the wrong direction.”
Ken Esch, a partner at PwC who focuses on private company services, sees signs of cautious hiring. “Though the majority of private companies are planning to increase headcount, fewer plan to hire in the next 12 months. Given this context, we should expect companies to hire very cautiously over the next year. Highly targeted hiring practices continue to be a trend that is holding steady, as the majority of companies continue to hire highly skilled workers in almost every industry, including manufacturing.”
However, the accounting profession is still seeing a war for talent, according to Kim Gottschalk, a senior regional vice president at the staffing company Accounting Principals. “The strength of accounting jobs has not changed, and CFOs still feel fierce pressure to attract and retain very strong accounting talent,” she told Accounting Today. “The message I want to send out to CFOs and accounting leaders is to make sure you’re developing your people.”
Despite economic uncertainty, Gottschalk said she is still seeing a strong job market for accountants.
“When it comes to accounting jobs, we are absolutely seeing increasing levels of it being a job seekers market. That means the accounting leaders out there need to continue to take control to attract and retain top talent. Between things like globalization, emerging markets, and also the strength or lack thereof of succession planning within a company, the war for talent is as high as it’s ever been. One of the main things I would suggest to the accounting leaders out there is to make sure they have a good succession plan. That is going to help them strengthen whatever part of the globe they’re in because the shortage still exists, and I suspect it will continue to exist for an uncertain amount of time.”
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