Employers added a robust 531,000 jobs in October, including 4,100 in accounting and bookkeeping services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, with the unemployment rate declining two-tenths of a point to 4.6%.
The job gains beat analyst expectations in a positive sign of a growing economy. Dow Jones had estimated a total of 450,000 jobs added for the month. The BLS also revised upward the employment gains for August and September, when the jobs report came in well below economist expectations (see story). The number for August was revised up by 117,000, from 366,000 to 483,000, and the total for September went up by 118,000, from 194,000 to 312,000. After those revisions, employment in August and September combined was 235,000 jobs higher than previously reported by the BLS.
Wage gains also continued last month, with average hourly earnings increasing 11 cents to $30.96, after large increases in the previous six months. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have gone up 4.9%.
The job growth was widespread, with the biggest gains seen in the leisure and hospitality industry, as well as professional and business services, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. Employment in public education fell over the course of the month, however.
The professional and business services sector added 100,000 jobs last month, including 41,000 jobs in temporary help services. Employment especially continued to rise in management and technical consulting services (which added 14,000 jobs), other professional and technical services (a gain of 9,000 jobs), scientific research and development services (6,000 jobs added), and legal services (5,000 jobs). However, employment in professional and business services is still 215,000 below the level seen in February 2020 before the pandemic led to steep losses.
Accounting firms such as CohnReznick have been competing aggressively for talent. The Top 20 Firm, based in New York, has been expanding its recruitment efforts, compensation and benefits policies. “I can tell you it’s still a tight market in our field, in audit, tax and consulting,’ said CohnReznick CEO David Kessler. “We continue to hire aggressively as our business expands. The expansion we’re seeing has been awesome over the last couple of years, most of it organic growth.”
But the recruitment pool has shrunk, as it has in many industries. “We continue to see a very tight labor market across all of our sectors,” said Kessler. “We continue to hire a lot of people directly out of college, entry level, some 300 plus a year, and continue to accelerate career growth and responsibilities and bring on at all levels lateral recruits, but it’s so competitive, and it’s one of the first years that we’re seeing a reduction in accounting graduates and a reduction in students that are going into accounting as their major.”
The firm has been offering extra incentives to entice new hires. “We really take a total rewards approach, in thinking about the fact that there is so much that goes into an employee’s decision to work with us,” said Sara Bridwell, chief people officer at CohnReznick. “We want to continue to reaffirm that decision on a daily basis. I often say that folks get recruited to CohnReznick and then get re-recruited every single day. Through that total rewards approach, we have made efforts to ensure that our compensation, which is a big piece of that, is market driven, and we have robust — both variable and base — pay plans. And then our benefits are a part of that. Over the pandemic, we have enhanced our total rewards package to provide a lot of additional support for parents. I think we saw in the pandemic that that support was needed and CohnReznick rose to that. We’ve got a special employee resource group that deals with parents of young children, and we increased our parental leave to up to eight weeks for new moms and dads that are bringing new children into their homes. And we’ve done a lot around mental health and helping our folks rest and recharge.”
One of the firm’s most popular benefits is a subscription to a wellness app called Headspace, which focuses on mindfulness and meditation, and also helps parents and their children fall asleep at night to get the rest they need.
CBIZ, a Top 100 Firm, also released its Small Business Employment Index on Friday, showing improved hiring trends at small businesses with 300 or fewer employees. It showed 25% of the 3,700 companies in the index expanded employment, while 53% made no change to their headcounts and 22% reduced staffing. The index rose 1.07% in October. The most hiring gains occurred in accommodations and food services, construction, retail and transportation industries. Declines were reported in the nonprofit, professional services, and wholesale distribution sectors. On a regional basis, the Central (0.61%), Northeast (1.35%), Southeast (1.49%) and West (2.09%) regions experienced hiring increases.
“The increase in hiring reported in October is probably the result of a few contributing factors,” said CBIZ executive vice president Philip Noftsinger in a statement. “Continued decreases of COVID-19 cases are likely contributing to more people returning to work, all enhanced unemployment benefits have expired, and businesses under 100 employees are unaffected by the federal vaccine mandates.”