Employers Added 215,000 Jobs in March, Including 500 in Accounting

Employment rose by 215,000 in March, including 500 jobs in accounting and bookkeeping services, although the unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The 215,000 jobs beat analyst estimates. Employment gains mainly occurred in retail trade, construction, and health care, while job losses occurred in manufacturing and mining.

In March, employment in professional and business services, which includes accounting and bookkeeping, changed little for the third month in a row, according to the BLS. In 2015, the professional and business services sector added an average of 52,000 jobs per month.

“With an average of 45,000 accounting and finance jobs added each year, we know hiring will continue to be a priority for employers throughout 2016,” said Kathy Gans, senior vice president of the staffing company Accounting Principals. “Many small to midsize firms are focused on growth—and attracting and retaining the right talent to help facilitate that growth. As skilled professionals continue to be in high demand throughout the industry, organizations will have to include differentiated perks in their benefits packages. More and more job seekers are looking for not only an increase in salary, but also perks that allow them more work-life balance. Encouraging employee wellness goes a long way for job seekers, particularly millennials. In fact, a survey from Accounting Principals found that one-third (33 percent) of Americans would go to the gym if they were given an extra hour each day. Consider offering perks such as gym-reimbursement or an hour off each week to get a work-out in. In this market, employers should be prepared to negotiate and move quickly on new hires before that talent goes elsewhere.”

The BLS reported that average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 7 cents in March to $25.43, following a 2-cent decline in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.3 percent.

“While these latest figures are encouraging, finding qualified workers continues to be a challenge for many companies,” said Ken Esch, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who focuses on private company services. “Highly targeted hiring is a common tactic we’re seeing among many of our private-company clients. It points to demographic shifts in the workforce and to core changes in U.S. manufacturing, where employees with specialized skills are increasingly replacing workers who typically manned pre-recession factory floors. This dynamic could eventually lead to an uptick in wage growth.”

The BLS also revised downward the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January from 172,000 to 168,000, but revised upward the change for February from 242,000 to 245,000. With these revisions, employment gains in January and February combined were 1,000 less than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 209,000 per month.

"I'm pleased that we added jobs last month—but too many Americans remain on the sidelines,” said House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, in a statement. “The best thing Washington can do to help people get back to work is to move forward with comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform. Tax Week is approaching, and it is the perfect reminder of why Washington must act soon on this issue. For another year, Americans are struggling to file their taxes under one of the harshest and most uncompetitive tax codes on the planet. We should no longer settle for a broken tax system that frustrates families, burdens Main Street job creators, and encourages American companies to move overseas.”

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