Professional and business services saw big job gains last month, adding more than 100,000 jobs last month. Think accountants, IT workers, consultants, all of those office jobs many people were commuting to before the pandemic. The sector has added more than 700,000 jobs since February of 2020.
It’s been a busy year for Sherrell T. Martin, who runs the accounting firm Nitram Financial. Martin works with a lot of interior design companies and says her clients have had a lot of work during the pandemic.
“Everybody has revamped, remodeled, rechanged their entire house. Now that they’re there more, it’s like hey, [laughs] let’s make this more appealing,” she said.
Martin’s company had just two employees last year. Two weeks ago, to help manage her growing workload, she hired a new employee.
And she’s still looking. “I have a very aggressive growth strategy which will require me to have at least two more people. So the plan is to hire,” she said.
Employment in the professional and business services sector has stayed strong throughout the pandemic in part because many of those jobs can be done from home. That has also given companies in the sector a bigger talent pool to hire from, according to Paul McDonald with the staffing firm Robert Half.
“Why don’t we recruit somebody that can live in Kansas City, even though we’re based in San Francisco, if they have the right skill set,” he said. According to McDonald, virtual work also created its own demand for these kinds of jobs, especially IT positions.
“If you think about organizations that had to pivot to work from home, they didn’t have the tech support. They didn’t have the cloud computing. They needed help,” he said.
As the economy has started to come back and other industries have been hiring, demand for consultants and accountants has gone up too, according to Katie Birkelo, senior vice president of the staffing company Randstad USA.
“You can’t increase jobs, let’s say, in a restaurant and not have someone handling the payroll for those professionals,” she said.
Birkelo said it’s been difficult to fill these roles lately, especially with such a low unemployment rate.
As a result, said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, pay in the sector has been rising. “Year-on-year, average hourly earnings for professional and business services workers is up 6.7%,” Bostjancic said, adding that’s a sign that this job sector is leading the economic recovery.