Employers added 164,000 jobs in July, including 6,300 in accounting

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Employers added a healthy 164,000 jobs in July, including 6,300 in accounting and bookkeeping services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, but the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7 percent.

Many of the job gains last month happened in the professional and technical services area, health care, social assistance and financial activities. Professional and technical services added 31,000 jobs last month, bringing the 12-month job gain to 300,000. Financial activities employment increased by 18,000, with most of the gain occurring in insurance carriers and related activities, which added 11,000 jobs. Accounting and bookkeeping services added 6,300 jobs on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, or 3,600 on a seasonally adjusted basis, for a gain of 3.6 percent in July.

Average hourly earnings increased 8 cents to $27.98, after an 8-cent gain in June. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased 3.2 percent.

“Overall the unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 3.7 percent, but that’s [near] a 50-year low,” said Kim Gottschalk, senior vice president at the staffing firm Accounting Principals. “The employment of accountants and auditors remains very strong. It’s projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026 [according to the BLS]. It’s good to be an accountant at this point. Globalization causes some of that, and of course the growing economy. Overall wages and hourly wages have gone up 3.2 percent at this point, so we see some positive signs and I’m optimistic.”

She is continuing to see demand for skilled accountants, in areas such as audit and tax, all the way up to the CFO level. "The talent shortage across all industries is very real, and if you add things like health care accounting to it, the talent shortage becomes even more extreme," said Gottschalk. "The need for competitive salaries and work-life balance and different sorts of benefits becomes even more extreme. We recently surveyed our clients and we’ve seen that 75 percent of workers would prefer a set schedule that offers flexibility. Most of the time they prefer that over increased income."

Employers are being advised to offer accountants, both entry-level and experienced job candidates, not only competitive salaries, but also good benefits. "Accounting Principals is advising them to be sure that they’re talking to people not just about wages," said Gottschalk. "That is an absolute point of entry. You must be competitive with that. But then you have to be competitive, if not more so, with benefits, especially flexibility, in order to retain and offer a clear career path."

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Employment data Recruiting Bureau of Labor Statistics