The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 jobs in June, sending the unemployment rate down two-tenths of a point to 5.3 percent.

[IMGCAP(1)]The number of unemployed persons declined by 375,000 to 8.3 million last month. The job gains mostly occurred in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, financial activities, and transportation and warehousing. In the professional and business services sector, accounting and bookkeeping services added 8,500 jobs.

Jodi Chavez, senior vice president at Accounting Principals, a recruitment and placement firm for accounting and finance professionals, believes the jobs report reflects trends her firm has seen in the market in recent months.

“We are seeing some numbers in terms of hiring that were pre-2006 and 2007 in terms of finance and accounting positions, both in the temporary space as well as the direct hire space,” she said. “We anticipate it’s going to remain very strong. Going into Q3, there’s no indicator of the hiring slowing down. If anything, we’re continuing to see it speed up. Some of that is obviously confidence on the side of companies, but the variety of companies hiring finance and accounting is some of what is leading to this growth.”

The job market never really declined much for accountants after the recession, but now that hiring is back at a stronger pace, employers are seeing greater competition for accounting talent at their firms and companies.

“There are not as many candidates with the exact skill match that clients are looking for as there were in 2009 and 2010,” said Chavez. “When employers identify a potential candidate that they are interested in, they would be advised to move quickly because the candidates are not staying on the market for very long. They’re moving much more quickly than in the past. We’re not quite [at the point yet of] signing bonuses, but we are seeing an increase in counteroffers—sometimes 10 to 15 percent salary adjustments in counteroffers.”

Employers across the country are focusing more on making their culture more attractive to potential recruits. “The types of training and the overall temperament of the culture is similar to what you would see in Silicon Valley at some of the high-tech companies,” said Chavez. “Companies are realizing that in order to attract finance and accounting professionals, a more modern updated stimulating culture is as important to newer finance and accounting professionals entering the job market than it ever has been before.”

Small Business Employment

[IMGCAP(2)]The professional business services firm CBIZ issued its own CBIZ Small Business Employment Index for June on Friday, showing growth in hiring among small businesses employing 300 or fewer people. The index increased by 0.81 percent this June, following a 1.36 percent increase during the month of May, the fourth consecutive month of positive gains for the index.

“I think that’s a great sign,” said CBIZ Payroll Services business unit president Philip Noftsinger. “Typically what happens is you will get a spurt of hiring in May for the season, and then in June you have a little bit more, and July actually tapers down a little bit, so we’ll want to watch what happens in July. But four straight months of positive job growth is really exciting. I don’t know that we’ve seen many periods of four straight months of positive job growth in the small business sector through the recession.”

Noftsinger noted that small business growth was largely driven by three key industries in June: construction, hotels and restaurants, and professional services. Jobs in the information sector also showed signs of growth. However, the mining, transportation, and administrative and support services sectors showed the largest declines in hiring in June.

CBIZ does not break out the numbers for accounting hiring in its report, but Noftsinger pointed out CBIZ has seen very good readings in the professional services space over the past four months in terms of hiring.

“Even in months when there was slower or decreased hiring, it was either at the top end or in a positive range, and we are continuing to see growth in that space as the economy continues to heal,” he said.

However, he pointed to a recent report on small business hiring from the National Federation of Independent Business that foresees some signs of a slowdown in hiring during the summer months.

The accounting sector, though, is likely to remain healthy, according to Chavez of Accounting Principals.

“The future looks very bright for finance and accounting professionals at all skill levels throughout the remainder of the year and hopefully into 2016,” she said.

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