The good news is that nearly three-quarters of accounting and finance professionals were still happy at work in September, according to the latest Hudson Employment Index for Accounting and Finance Workers. The bad news is their contentment didn’t translate into confidence, as the overall confidence level dropped 6.3 points, to 106.2 during the same period.
These mixed signals, as accounting and finance professionals enter the fourth quarter, traditionally a strong period for industry workers as firms increase staffing in anticipation of the coming tax season, are difficult to analyze. The overall level is similar to last year’s when the effects of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters were still being felt, explains Wayne Beaubain, executive vice president of Hudson Financial Solutions.
The decline in overall confidence among accounting and finance professionals reflects drops in both hiring expectations and job satisfaction. The Index reveals a three-point increase in the number of employees anticipating layoffs in September, while only 29 percent of those surveyed expect their companies to hire, down a substantial 8 points from August. The majority of employees are happy at work, however, that majority is 3 points smaller than it was in August and only 16 percent of workers rated their finances as excellent in September.
Although overall confidence among accounting and finance workers declined significantly in September, it remains higher than the 100.5 national rate for all occupations. The legal profession saw the greatest decrease in confidence, declining more than 16 points, to 97.9, followed by manufacturing which dropped 11.3 points, to 86.1. Only confidence among information technology workers increased, climbing 6.2 points, to 109.3.
Workers in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia, Tampa, Fla., and Dallas, Texas, showed the most confidence. All had overall confidence levels more than 10 points above the national rate. Employees in New York City and state, as well as workers in Philadelphia, Penn., expressed the least confidence in September, with levels falling more than 10 percent below the national rate.
Optimism is not unwarranted.
“Our research finds that much of corporate America is seeing a slowdown in job growth, which is echoed by reports coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Steve Wolfe, senior vice president, Hudson, explained in a prepared statement announcing the overall national results. “However, unchanged expectations around layoffs indicate that the slowing is simply that. Most employers are not reversing their course of action by letting people go.”
In fact, according to Phillip Rones’, Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Statement on the Employment Situation, accounting and bookkeeping employment increased by 10,000 in September. Six thousand management jobs in companies and enterprises were added as well. Job growth in credit intermediation and insurance also increased, as more than 16,000 financial activities jobs were created nationally. In addition, the 2006-2007 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook states that by 2014 employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow between 18 and 26 percent, a rate significantly faster than the national average.
Previous coverage of the Hudson Employment Index includes: