Q1 Accounting and Finance Employment Report

January 22, 2019
Q1 Accounting and Finance Employment Report

It’s 2019. And despite last month’s spiraling stock market and talks predicting a recession on the horizon, the labor market remains steady — much like the competition for skilled talent.

With the national unemployment rate at 3.9%, the demand for professionals continues to drive the current hiring environment. Candidates are at the wheel. And employers must find new ways to meet their needs with higher pay, a strong company culture and better benefits.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers added 312,000 positions in December — easily surpassing expectations and December 2017’s 148,000. Professional and business services added 43,000 jobs last month, bringing its total to 583,000 jobs for the year — the highest among all sectors reported by BLS.

Last year’s big corporate tax cut only spurred an already strong economy, with the creation of 2.6 million new jobs in 2018.

Experts aren’t worried about the slight uptick in unemployment as the labor participation rate also increased to a year-high of 63.1%, signaling more people are rejoining the workforce. Unfortunately, the economy continues to create jobs at a rate that outpaces the number of available candidates.

The Big Picture:

Source: BLS

    • Total unemployment: 3.9%
    • Unemployment for workers with some college or associate degree: 3.3%
    • Unemployment for workers with college degree and higher: 2.1%

For Accounting and Finance Professionals:

The breakdown of roles below illustrates the unemployment rate for finance and accounting professionals is below the national average, according to BLS. Financial professions are projected to see an increase in demand as responsibilities have expanded to permeate all areas of business.

  • Financial analysts: 1.2%
  • Accountants and auditors: 1.6%
  • Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: 2.1%
  • Financial managers: 2.6%
  • A/P and A/R specialists: 3.8%


So, what does this all mean?

For employers, tapping into the mindset of today’s job seeker is key. Competitive compensation continues to top the list of reasons for choosing a new position, but that’s not enough to sway talent with multiple offers on the table. Other factors, such as presenting opportunities in terms of growth and development, robust benefits packages and establishing an attractive corporate culture are all integral to hiring — and retaining — top talent.

For candidates, the time to act is now. Businesses are preparing for projects with a new, 2019 budget and are looking to hire. Still, it’s important job seekers retain an edge during their search. Tips like tailoring your resume to fit the specific role to putting your personal network to use to find an “in” with a company are small, significant ways to separate yourself from other candidates.

Temporary Staffing on the Rise

Temporary or contract work is also an increasingly popular option for consultants seeking flexibility in their careers. Employers are turning to temporary workers to meet the staffing demands of a tight labor market, with BLS reporting a record 2.06% of December jobs as temporary help. In fact, HR Dive predicts, “independent contract workers will comprise 60% of the workforce within the next 10 years.”


While we don’t know the long-term effects of the partial government shutdown, expect growth to slow in the overall economy. Still, hyper-low unemployment and the shortage of accounting and finance professionals will require employers to rethink how they attract and retain top talent. Companies may need to be more flexible with their hiring criteria. Or, if they want to secure experienced, credentialed and skilled professionals, come to terms with pay increases.

Staffing and recruiting firms are equipped to help both employers and candidates navigate today’s competitive hiring environment. Century Group works with leading companies — giving them access to a curated talent network of financial professionals with CPAs, MBAs and public and private accounting backgrounds.

We understand what type of offer will get a candidate to consider a career opportunity, and can connect job seekers with exclusive jobs unavailable anywhere else. To learn more about our direct hire and temporary staffing services, contact our recruiters today.

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