Accounting is a $133 billion industry in the United States. In addition to providing great career opportunities, accounting firms provide small businesses with much-needed support, such as financial audits and tax compliance services. They also stepped up in a major way during the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost 80% of firms providing COVID-19-related consulting services.
To understand the state of the accounting industry better, we’ve compiled the most relevant accounting statistics around accounting software, accounting jobs, accounting industry trends, and small business accounting.
General Accounting Statistics
1. Only 31% of accounting and finance professionals have returned to the office full-time since the pandemic
Almost 85% were full-time in the office prior to the pandemic. This percentage dropped to only 22% at the peak of the pandemic and made a slight rebound to 31% in 2022. MineralTree expects the percentage to drop to 28% in 2023.
2. 66% of accounting firm staff worked in the office full-time in 2022
In 2022, staff at accounting firms worked in the office more than other accounting and finance professionals. This high reliance on in-office employees could be driven by the necessity for auditors to be present physically at the client’s premises to perform an audit.
3. Only 72,923 students completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting in 2019–2020
According to the 2021 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Trends Report, the number of accounting graduates saw a decline in 2019–2020 compared to the previous five years, which was anywhere from 76,000 to 79,000.
4. 1.3 million accountants and auditors are employed in the US
This number is split fairly evenly between certified public accountants (CPAs) and non-CPAs, with 665,612 actively licensed CPAs as of August 2022. There are relatively few enrolled agents (EAs), which are tax professionals licensed directly by the IRS to represent taxpayers.
Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) at CPA Firms in the US
5. 82% of partners in CPA firms in the US are white
The next largest demographic of partners is Asian or Pacific Islander at 10%.
6. 23% of CPAs at firms in the US are nonwhite
The largest nonwhite race/ethnicity is Asian or Pacific Islander at 14% of all CPAs.
7. 46% of CPAs at firms in the US are women
Less than 0.5% of respondents to the AICPA report identified as “other than male or female.”
Accounting Job Statistics
8. $60,009: Average entry-level salary for an accountant in the US
The entry-level salary for accountants in the US varies slightly by the level of education. On average, an accountant with a graduate degree makes only 4% more than an accountant with an associate degree.
9. $85,004: Base salary for an accounting supervisor
Accountants have a great opportunity for long-term earnings growth as they advance in their career. Below is the median pay for accountants as they advance.
10. $76,693: Average salary for CPAs
On average, CPAs earn about $17,000 more per year than corporate general ledger or fixed asset accountants.
11. 151,320 accountants and auditors were in California in 2021
As of May 2021, California has the highest number of accountants and auditors among all states in the US. New York has the next-highest number of accountants, with 111,660, followed by Texas, with 104,490.
(US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Accounting Software Statistics
12. 64% of business owners do their own bookkeeping
Cloud-based small business accounting software that can transfer transactions automatically from bank accounts has taken much of the time-consuming work out of bookkeeping.
(Statista: Software Usage)
13. 3.5 million Xero subscribers worldwide
Xero is the second largest provider of small business accounting software in the world but is more prevalent outside of the US. It’s more popular than QuickBooks Online in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, among other places.
Are you interested in learning more about popular accounting solutions? Check out our article on the best small business accounting software.
Accounting Industry Statistics
14. 88,652: The number of accounting firms in the US as of the beginning of 2023
The number of accounting firms has been fairly steady, with a 0.1% annual decline over the past five years.
15. $133 billion: Accounting industry revenue in the US for 2022
Nearly 65% of the US revenue ($86 billion) was generated by the four largest accounting firms.
16. $189.4 billion: 2022 Global revenue of the four largest accounting firms
Deloitte is the largest accounting firm in the world with more than $59 billion in annual revenues.
17. 10 to 15 years: Average time it takes for an employee to become a partner in accounting firms of all types
Smaller firms can often provide a quicker path to becoming a partner.
(Journal of Accountancy: Path to Partner)
Small Business Accounting Statistics
18. 31% of small businesses in the US spend more than $5,000 per year administering their federal taxes
Only 15% of small businesses report spending more than $10,000 administering federal taxes.
19. 28.4 million small businesses filed taxes as sole proprietors in 2020
Sole proprietors are the most common type of business in the US and must file an annual Schedule C. Schedule C is a relatively simple income statement for non-incorporated, single-owner businesses to file with their personal income tax return, Form 1040.
(IRS SOI Tax Stats)
20. $56,614: Average gross revenue reported on Schedule C in 2020
This represents a decline of 4% from the gross revenue of $58,847 reported in 2019.
(IRS SOI Tax Stats)
21. $44,721: Average expenses reported on Schedule C in 2020
This was around 3% less than the $46,179 reported in expenses for 2019. The net effect of the change in gross revenue and expenses was a 7% decline in net income from $12,668 to $11,893.
(IRS SOI Tax Stats)
22. $4,983: Average wages paid by Schedule C businesses in 2020
Schedule C businesses cannot pay wages to owners, so any wages paid are to nonowner employees. The fact that wages paid by Schedule C businesses are so low is consistent with most small businesses forming a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) if they have employees.
(IRS SOI Tax Stats)
23. 4.7 million S corporations filed tax returns in 2017
Most S-corporations (S-corps) are small, with 4.3 million (91.5%) having total assets of less than $1 million.
(IRS SOI Tax Stats)
24. $1.7 million: Average gross revenue reported by S-corps in 2017
S-corps in 2017 also reported average expenses of $1.5 million for an average net income of $101,572. Only $62,000 of the $1.5 million in average expenses were paid to the shareholder officers as salaries.
Accounts Payable & Automation Statistics
25. 84% of vendors say that speed of payment is what they value the most from their customer’s payment system
It’s a bit surprising that speed of payment is even more important to vendors than payment accuracy. With supply chain problems persisting in 2023, small businesses must maintain a positive relationship with their vendors.
26. 58% of finance professionals believe that COVID-19 was a catalyst for moving from paper to digital processes
COVID-19 forced many employees to work remotely—which, in turn, required many traditionally paper tasks to become digital. Common digitized tasks include invoicing customers and processing check payments to vendors.
27. 52% of companies have automated accounts payable processes in 2022
This is a 61% increase over the 32% of companies in 2021 with automated accounts payable (A/P). The increase in remote work requires more automation. This trend is likely true across all accounting processes and not for A/P.
28. 35% of businesses make the majority of their payments with a paper check
This represents a 10 percentage point decrease in the use of paper checks from 2021. Automated clearing house (ACH) payments are leading the way as the growing alternative to paper checks, with 67% of companies reporting an increase in ACH payments from 2021 to 2022. Virtual cards are also gaining popularity, with 37.5% of companies reporting an increase in their usage in 2022.
We hope these statistics have provided you with insights into the importance of accounting in the US economy, particularly as it relates to our workforce of young professionals and small businesses.
References: MineralTree (2022) (2021), Accounting Today, AICPA 2021 Trends Report, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, NASBA, NAEA, Surgent, Salary.com, Zipia.com, Statista: Software Usage, Xero, Statista: Accounting Industry, Statista: U.S. Firms, Statista: Big Four Firms, Journal of Accountancy: Path to Partner, PR Newswire: SCORE, IRS SOI Tax Stats, and IBISWorld