The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employers added a better than expect 313,000 jobs in February, although the unemployment rate remained unchanged for the fifth month in a row at 4.1 percent.
Employment in professional and business services increased by 50,000 in February and has risen by 495,000 over the year, the BLS noted. Within that category, accounting and bookkeeping services added 2,500 jobs last month. Employment also rose in the construction, retail trade, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining sectors.
“The jobs report that came out today was significantly higher than expected,” said Jeramy Kaiman, vice president at the staffing and recruiting company Accounting Principals. “With 313,000 new jobs, it was almost 50 percent above expectations. If we’re talking specifically about the effect in the accounting and finance or tax industry, we have to look at the number in professional and business services, which has increased jobs by 50,000. In the current report, over the last year, that sector has increased by jobs by just a hair under 500,000, at 495,000 jobs. One of the hottest job sectors in terms of total growth over the last year, and total growth in the last month, was professional services.”
The growth rate for jobs in accounting was around 1.3 percent, he noted.
The new tax law probably helped boost employment. “This report shows continued momentum in our economy,” said House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, in a statement. “And with the help of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our economy is finally starting to fire on all cylinders.”
In other good news reported by the BLS, the civilian labor force rose by 806,000 in February, and the labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage point over the month to 63.0 percent as more people re-entered the workforce.
Wages also continued to trend upward. Average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents to $26.75 in February, after a 7-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased 68 cents, or 2.6 percent.
Employers are seeing more demand for accountants, particularly those in mid-management positions.
“We’re seeing a dramatically increased demand for that talent, and we are seeing a continual shrinkage of available talent for those jobs,” said Kaiman. “There’s no question that the jobs in the middle of the org chart are the ones that are in the highest demand because those are the jobs where those candidates seem to have the most opportunity. Therefore, as a result of that, they have the highest turnover right now. That’s where a lot of the good jobs are being added in the accounting and finance sector right now: the staff senior and the manager level within accounting, finance, tax and audit. Those are the roles that are growing in terms of total jobs available in the market, but also the time to fill those jobs has increased pretty significantly for companies, given the fact that the available talent to fill those jobs is getting smaller.”
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