Labor Woes Hit Accounting Teams
Accounting in the United States is at a pivotal point as the industry faces a critical shortage of qualified professionals. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a 10% dip in practicing accountants and auditors, leaving the industry with just 1.62 million professionals. A whopping 190,000 jobs disappeared in 2023, sparking concerns about companies’ ability to manage their finances without a full team.
One of the primary contributors to this shortage is the aging workforce within the field. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) estimates that around 75% of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) would have been eligible for retirement by 2020, further exacerbating the crisis. As experienced professionals retire, there’s a worsening need for fresh talent.
But why are fewer accountants entering the workforce? Some potential accountants might be deterred by the 150-hour educational requirement, often perceived as a barrier to entry. Accounting is also sometimes perceived as a dull or boring job, with young people opting for more dynamic fields such as finance and technology. Add in lower compensation compared to other jobs, long hours, concerns over diversity, that accounting is seen as overly specialized, and the high cost of education, and the crisis comes into high relief.
This shortage isn’t just a number on a balance sheet—it’s a big problem for businesses and their finance teams. CFOs and finance recruiters are feeling the pinch, with a shrinking pool of accountants for essential tasks like closing books, audits, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.
Efforts are underway to address the crisis in the short term. Organizations are exploring ways to make accounting more appealing, such as revisiting educational requirements, promoting the more dynamic aspects of the profession, and increasing diversity and inclusion initiatives.
In the meantime, accounting teams feel the need to get creative by stretching resources, automating tasks, and outsourcing where needed. However, as the industry evolves, stakeholders must recognize the need to adapt to lure in a new wave of accountants. Attracting top talent might become key to the long-term sustainability and financial growth of their businesses.
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- The Accounting Profession Is In Crisis – The CPA Journal
- How Much of a Threat Is the Talent Shortage To the Accounting Profession? – Accountancy Age
- Only 1% of US Accounting Firms Can Find Staff – Entigrity
- The Continued CPA and Accountant Shortage in 2023 – Controllers Council