Tax cuts fuel hiring as employers added 200,000 jobs in January

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employers added a robust 200,000 jobs in January, although the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent despite a boost from the passage of a tax cut law at the end of the year.

Employment continued to go up in the construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing sectors.

Wages also went up last month on average. Average hourly earnings rose 9 cents to $26.74, after an 11-cent gain in December. Over the course of last year, average hourly earnings have increased 75 cents, or 2.9 percent.

The BLS also revised downward the employment gains in November from 252,000 to 216,000, though the gains for December were revised upward from 148,000 to 160,000. However, with both revisions, employment gains in November and December combined were 24,000 less than the BLS previously reported.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who helped push the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through Congress last month, anticipates the new tax law will help boost jobs further this year.

“This report marks a strong start to 2018 as our economy continues to improve under President Trump,” he said in a statement. “Every day, American businesses are making commitments to invest in the greatest asset our nation has: the American people. They’re creating more job opportunities, boosting paychecks, and bringing money back to strengthen our communities and our workforce. I am confident this progress will continue as more workers, families, and job creators realize the benefits of tax reform.”

The economy is boosting demand for workers, including accountants who can help clients deal with the new tax law, as well as those with advanced skills in technologies such as data analytics.

Deloitte polls CFOs every quarter about their concerns. “A CFO’s most worrisome internal risk or concern, quarter in and quarter out, is talent,” said Sandy Cockrell, national managing partner and global leader of Deloitte’s U.S. CFO Program. “It’s attracting the right talent, retaining the right talent, and gaining the right skills. The number one trend in the survey that is going to drive business strategy and finance function strategy is data analytics. What I hear from CFOs is there’s going to be a big change in finance organizations in terms of the type of people that will be needed to be able to use the new tools around data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics and things like that. There will be elements of artificial intelligence that will be able to create and calculate information that ends up in financial statements, particularly forward-looking financial statements.”

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