The latest very encouraging figures from the government are showing that unemployment is still dropping and that wages are also on the rise. This all looks like great news for accountants and according to a recent survey, the industry is seeing great things ahead.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the current unemployment rate stands at 5.7% - a level that is close to that of 2008 before the recession hit. The consequences of this are that employers are finding it harder to get the right people into advertised roles and there are fewer people competing for jobs.
The natural upside of this competition is a rise in wages. Wages in the last quarter of 2014 were 2.1% higher than one year earlier and it continues to rise – although at a painfully slow rate for some. While this improvement is yet to be felt in some sectors, the financial services industry appears to be one of the first to see the end of austerity. In fact, wages are finally outstripping inflation for the first time in many years.
A further example of improving economic conditions for the UK are highlighted by the good news coming from PwC and their Women in Work Index which details the numbers of women in work (believed to be an indicator of economic prosperity). The UK ranks at 14th out of 27 developed countries. This is an improvement of 4 places since the previous year. However there is still some way to go to reach the heights of Norway, Denmark and Sweden at the top of the list.
So how does this all bode for tax professionals in the profession and those working in the financial industry? Thankfully it seems that most accountants agree that things are definitely on the up. A study carried out by a specialist recruiter has found that close to 80% of those questioned felt that they would be getting a pay rise this year, with those living in London and the South East being the most likely to feel confident of a wage hike.
But it isn't just wages that are improving. Two thirds were sure that they would get a bonus this year with most believing that 10% of their base wage would be about right. Overall the general feeling is one of buoyancy with many feeling that they would look for a new job this year.
Compared to previous years this is a huge step forward. In 2014 one third did not receive a pay rise and 44% failed to receive a bonus. This clearly hasn't dented their confidence in what is happening for 2015.
While the recession is well and truly over and austerity appears to be behind us, some industries still struggle – but the pain may well be over for the profession.