Temporary Staffing: On the Rise—and Boosting the Economy

At the beginning of this year, the American Staffing Association released its 2012 Annual Economic Analysis. In it the author, Steven Berchem (the chief operation officer of the ASA), points out that the U.S. staffing industry has added more jobs in the last three years than any other job sector in the country—an indication, perhaps, of a dramatic shift in the U.S. labor market. 

According to a report released earlier this month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, the staffing industry added 16,000 new jobs to the economy between January and February of this year alone. The ASA’s study predicts that these numbers will continue to rise and identifies two major reasons why.

Uncertainty about the economy is the first reason. The White House and Congress keep playing a cat-and-mouse game on the edge of the fiscal cliff, and organizations and individuals alike worry about what healthcare reform will do to their wallets. Although the recession officially ended in June 2009, many people remain in dire economic straits. With much of the country still feeling financially strapped and anxious about possible tax increases and spending cuts on the horizon, many organizations are not yet ready to bring more permanent employees—and the financial obligations they entail—on board and therefore increasingly rely on temporary employees to meet their business needs.

The other reason why the ASA thinks temporary staffing numbers will keep going up is a widespread desire for flexibility on the part of both staff and organizations:

  • Employees. Households with two working parents need flexible work arrangements in order to meet childcare and household needs. This type of work also facilitates the work-life balance valued by recent generations, and lets them engage in more fulfilling work by letting them apply their skilled expertise on a project-by-project basis.

  • Employers. Temporary staffing enables companies to bring in specialized talent for specific projects. It also allows them to manage the ups and downs of their business by expanding (and contracting) their labor levels as needed.

In fact, temporary staffing benefits the entire economy! It provides immediate employment and real income for workers and for people seeking long-term employment—and can serve as a bridge to permanent jobs. As the temporary staffing sector grows, its increasing job numbers help lower overall unemployment.

Clearly, temporary staffing is the place to be—for both employees and employers. As the numbers in this field keep going up, workers will find more opportunities to showcase their talents, and organizations will find it easier to staff projects effectively.


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