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If You Believe the AICPA, Hiring Is Looking Good

Sometimes we get job reports from certain mainstream media outlets that shall remain nameless that look a tad suspect but in the case of this info from the AICPA, I think we can safely rely on the findings.

Here’s the good news via the Journal of Accountancy:

On the demand front, hiring is back on the upswing after decreasing from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, the total number of accounting hires was 36,111. That dropped to 25,488 in 2008 but climbed to 33,321 in 2010. A large portion of that increase was in firms with fewer than 10 CPAs on staff. Firms of that size increased their hiring projections from 11,432 in 2008 to 16,342 in 2010 (see Exhibit 1).

In terms of the types of positions CPA firm new hires were recruited to fill across firms of all sizes, accounting and auditing still commanded a narrow majority at 51%; followed by taxation at 25%; other at 16%; and information technology at 8%.

The accounting and auditing share of new hires was down from 60% in 2007, with the declines coming from firms with 50 or more CPAs. Hiring of new CPA graduates likewise decreased for information technology (down 5 percentage points from 13%). Tax showed a slight increase (2 percentage points) with the strongest gains coming from firms with fewer than 10 CPAs, while the largest growth since 2007 was in the “other” category.

The percentage of overall firms expecting to hire the same or more new accounting graduates than last year also is up—to 89% from 74% when the question was asked in 2008.

Here’s the next obvious question: are we talking about real, created-from-nothing jobs or are we talking about covering massive staff turnover popularized in public accounting by serf-like working conditions and disappointing compensation? Because hiring the same guy in four different firms doesn’t add up the same as hiring four new accounting grads. Duh.

Oh, and something else – where’s 2009? It doesn’t appear in any of the included exhibits, nor is it mentioned in the Journal of Accountancy article even once. The full survey, available from the AICPA’s website, doesn’t specifically mention the exclusion of 2009 in the survey methodology. We aren’t one for conspiracy theories (yeah, right) but it seems suspect that an entire year would just disappear and fail to get a single mention. I mean it was only two years ago.

We’ll dig into the survey results in more detail later, maybe once we track down 2009. Though not specifically mentioned in the above charts, the entire 2009 Trends in the supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report can be found here.