Employers added a disappointing 38,000 jobs in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, including 5,400 in accounting and bookkeeping services, although the unemployment rate declined three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.7 percent.

Employment increased in health care, but mining continued to lose jobs, and employment in information services decreased due to the recently resolved strike at Verizon. The number of unemployed persons declined by 484,000 to 7.4 million. Average hourly earnings increased 5 cents to $25.59, following an increase of 9 cents in April. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent. The lower than expected job numbers probably reduce the chances of another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve board of governors at their meeting later this month.

In a further sign of a slowing jobs market, the BLS also revised downward the employment numbers for March and April. March went from a gain of 208,000 jobs to 186,000, and April’s job gains were revised downward from 160,000 to 123,000. With these revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 59,000 less than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 116,000 per month.

Accountants continue to be in high demand, though, according to Kim Gottschalk, senior regional vice president for the staffing company Accounting Principals. “I would call today’s market in accounting jobs at least steady,” she said. “We can see from the jobs reports the fact that the unemployment rate has lessened to 4.7 percent. Although there are so many things going on in the economic climate, including the election, accounting jobs are still not scarce. There’s still what I would call full employment for accountants. It continues to be a job seeker’s market in accounting, and the recruitment that we need to do continues to be strong throughout all of the generations, for all of the skillsets within all of the markets in the U.S.”

Two industries where accountants are in heavy demand are health care and financial services. “Health care accounting is always a strong need,” said Gottschalk. “Here in Chicago we see a tremendous need for good accountants in the financial sector. Financial analysts, staff accountants, the people that have mid-level accounting experience and professionals are in high demand.”

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