Employers Added 242,000 Jobs in February

Employment increased by a healthy 242,000 jobs in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, although only 100 jobs were added in accounting and bookkeeping services.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent, and there were signs of retrenchment in wage growth. The employment gains mainly occurred in health care and social assistance, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and private educational services. Job losses continued in mining.

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 3 cents to $25.35, following an increase of 12 cents in January. However, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised upward the job numbers for December and January, with the numbers for December increasing from 262,000 to 271,000, and for January from 151,000 to 172,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 30,000 more than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 228,000 per month.

Even though the job gains in accounting and bookkeeping services were only 100 in February, compared to 5,800 in January, there are still positive signs in the industry.

“The unemployment rate for skilled accountants has continued to remain lower than the overall average, and we’ll likely see this trend continue throughout 2016,” said Kim Gottschalk, senior regional vice president at the staffing company Accounting Principals. “With skilled professionals in high demand, job seekers have plenty of opportunities to choose from and employers are competing through elevated perks and wages to attract pivotal talent. Wages are on the rise with staff accountants expecting to make an average of $55K in 2016, according to our 2016 Salary Guide. While higher salaries are attractive to candidates, companies that rely on competitive salaries alone to attract and retain top talent will lose candidates to companies that offer compelling benefits.”

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