Houston, You May Have a Problem

The Texas oil-and-gas town tops a new list of U.S. cities where finance organizations may find it difficult to staff up this year.
David McCannMarch 21, 2012

If you’re a CFO in Houston and need to fill out your accounting staff, you may have a problem. Houston is the best city in the country for accounting and finance professionals, from accounts-payable clerks up through senior accounting managers, to find work, because of the plentiful supply of openings and a lack of qualified candidates to fill them.

So says Accounting Principals, a temporary staffing firm, which has released its second-annual study identifying the top cities for such professionals to find work. The firm tracked the orders coming in from its 110-plus U.S. branch locations over the past six months, and added in data from its sister company Parker & Lynch, a finance-executive search firm.

While the national unemployment figure stands at 8.5%, in finance and accounting it’s half that at about 4.2%, says Accounting Principals vice president Mike McNamara. In the cities that were among the 10 where finding such jobs was easiest, the incidence of unemployment in the field was even lower. The squeeze is being felt in markets across the country (see chart).

Houston, which didn’t even make last year’s list of best jobs cities, shot to the top this year based on a sudden boom in the cyclical oil-and-gas industry. That also hoisted Tulsa onto the list. Meanwhile, in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, the staffing and recruiting firms were filling more jobs in the financial-services sector than they had in several years.

The position of Richmond, Virginia, at No. 2 on the list, was something of a puzzle, McNamara admits. There was a noticeable uptick in hiring at the many supply-chain logistics firms located in and around Richmond, a port city that is close to Washington, D.C., and mortgage and loan-processing business was also up in the area. But McNamara says Accounting Principals is still analyzing why Richmond placed where it did.

In Atlanta, No. 5 on the 2012 list, the real estate and hospitality businesses are stronger this year, McNamara says, while unemployment in the accounting and finance field is very low, creating a good market for those who are looking for jobs there.