Q1 ended on a high note — painting the picture of a healthy job market as March came to a close. February’s disappointing 20,000 jobs even edged upward to a revised 33,000, while the Labor Department reported an impressive gain of 196,000 jobs last month.
These figures surpass most economists’ expectations as the threat of a slowing economy appears to be abated for now. But growth is moderate, especially in comparison to last year’s stellar numbers. According to The New York Times, 2018’s high job production rate wasn’t sustainable long-term, and strong hiring in several sectors — including professional and business services — is a positive sign for the U.S. labor force. Pay increases also indicate continued economic expansion, with hourly wages reported as 3.2% higher than last March’s.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE REMAINS STEADY
The Bureau Labor of Statistics reported the unemployment rate remained at 3.8% in March, while the number for college-degreed workers shrunk from 2.2 to just 2 percent. This number is even lower for accountants and auditors. For Q1, BLS reported the unemployment rate at 1.8% .
Here’s the unemployment breakdown by roles:
- Financial analysts: 1.0%
- Financial managers: 2.3%
- Accountants and auditors: 1.8%
- Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: 2.0%
- Billing and posting clerks: 1.2%
- Compliance officers: 0.8%
Bottom line: Skilled and credentialed financial professionals remain in-demand, as employers continue to compete for top talent.
CENTURY GROUP’S FORECAST
The story hasn’t changed much. For employers, a tight labor market and a low, steady unemployment rate translates to more hiring and recruiting challenges as we move into Q2. To stand out, showcase aspects that are attractive to today’s talent: engaging company culture, competitive compensation packages and roles that offer growth and mentorship opportunities.
Companies seeking candidates with specific skill sets should consider the help of staffing and recruiting firms that can help identify professionals with the right background.
This candidate-driven market has given job seekers an edge. Your skills are a valuable resource — use that to your advantage.
Take the time to weigh what factors are most important when identifying your next career opportunity. Is work-life balance a priority? How about benefits and perks? Make sure you address these areas during the interview process, so you can find the best position — and company — for you. Becoming a temporary worker is also a profitable way to experience different roles on a more flexible schedule.
For those candidates who want to make themselves even more attractive to employers, consider upskilling. According to our 2019 Salary Guide, accounting and finance professionals with CPAs and MBAs are the most sought after. Improving your soft skills is also an option for job seekers looking to get ahead, and can be applied throughout your career.