The unemployment rate for accountants and auditors was 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2019, notably lower than the national 3.8 percent unemployment rate, according to the latest quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The accountant unemployment rate is the percentage of unemployed accountants — defined as individuals who have looked for work in the previous four weeks — in the labor force.
Rates for specialized roles in finance and accounting are also trending low. The first-quarter hiring report shows jobless rates are trending below the national average for the following:
- 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%
All of these statistics point to a continued candidate’s market in 2019, which means there are more job openings than job seekers, and employers are in competition to hire top talent.
Advice for employers on the accountant unemployment rate
"In this job market, employers are having difficulty finding top talent in finance and accounting, so they must broaden their candidate search and adjust their hiring criteria," says Steve Saah, executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting.
If you are a hiring manager, Saah offers this advice: Narrow your hiring criteria to the most critical attributes. Be more flexible. If you’re unable to find someone who perfectly matches the job description but has the soft skills to succeed in the role, you may be able to provide new hires education and training opportunities for what’s missing.
Another tip is to expand your reach. Cast a wide net and augment your efforts by networking and tapping your existing employees as a resource for referrals. Consider working with a specialized staffing firm that can help you find skilled professionals who are not actively seeking work but would jump at the right position if it came along.
And don’t wait.
"Organizations must move as quickly as possible in their interview process and hiring,” Saah says. “Top candidates have options and won't wait long for the business to make a decision."
Job searching in today’s candidate-driven market
Whether you’re just starting out, looking for a new company or new industry, or thinking about making a complete career change, the job market is tilted in your favor. Saah says you need to take a step back, evaluate your experience and skills, and explore your options.
“Tap into your network of finance-industry colleagues, starting with the people you know best,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to ask them to put in a good word for you or put you in touch with someone else who can help.”
If you decide that now is a good time for a job search, even a passive one, craft your best resume and cover letter, and round up your references.
“If your resume is compelling enough, it’s likely to lead to an interview,” Saah says.
Before you get too far into the process, consider your preferences with regard to corporate culture, salary and benefits, and work-life balance.
No matter what the accountant unemployment rate is, working with a staffing firm can help you uncover opportunities that might even become your dream job in accounting and finance.
Take a look at the job openings in your city.
Steve Saah is the executive director for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world’s first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide. He is responsible for leading worldwide operations, based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.