Free Markets, Free People

Temporary worker hiring outlook dismal

One of the things economists watch to try to gauge the job market is how the temporary worker market is doing.   Many times a rise in temp workers signals businesses are gearing up for more permanent hiring as the economy gains steam.  The opposite is many times also true.   And, unfortunately, it appears that this particular indicator isn’t giving us the warm fuzzy feeling  we hoped it would:

Last month’s fall in the number of temporary workers could herald continued weakness in the job market.

The total number of temporary employees placed by staffing agencies dipped by 12,000 last month and is down 19,000 the past three months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Now perhaps 3 months can’t be considered a “trend”, but it is pretty darn close.  And it parallels the news we’ve been getting about unemployment and the economy in general.

Temporary workers, however, could be the most telling signal. The number of contingent workers started growing in fall 2009, about six months before the broader job market began to emerge from the recession. From September 2009 to March, employers added nearly 500,000 temporary workers.

Roy Krause, CEO of SFN Group, a top staffing agency, says temporary placements for white-collar jobs in accounting, computers and legal remain strong. But those for lower-skilled light industrial, clerical and certain call-center jobs — which accounted for most of last year’s growth — have slowed. "They tend to be more sensitive to economic conditions," he says.

An example:

Chemical maker Arkema of Philadelphia employed about 150 temporary workers earlier this year. But it trimmed that total by about 50 in April and May as the weak economy prompted it to cut its 2011 forecast, Vice President Chris Giangrasso says. Arkema, he says, will likely not add this year to its permanent staff of about 2,500 in North America.

Key point – “weak economy”.  He had enough growth last year to warrant hiring temp workers but not full time staff.   Now he doesn’t even have enough business to warrant 2/3rds of the temps he hired and had to let them go.

That weakness in the economy continues to linger because, as we’ve noted any number of times, of the unsettled business climate.  And that’s something government could do to help the situation – back off regulation, taxes and interference (*cough* NLRB/Boeing*cough*) and stay out of the way.   It seems, though, that doing so is just not in this administration’s genes.

And so the negative indicators continue to pile up while the President of the United States and a complicit media attempt to make bad guys out of the GOP as they hold the line against economy crippling tax increases.

Go figure.


Twitter: @McQandO


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5 Responses to Temporary worker hiring outlook dismal

  • The White House is going to have to get on the CBS affiliate in LA – “the Obama Depression”.
    Ouch, someone’s going to get a White House purple nurple as a result of this.

  • “And so the negative indicators continue to pile up ”

    here let me fix that for you

    “And so the negative indicators continue to pile up  UNEXPECTEDLY”

    like all the other bad news is unexpected when obama is President.

  • Great.  So, not only is it harder and harder to get a full-time job, now one can’t even get a temp job to try to keep his skills fresh and bring in some honest money.

    Say… I’m guessing that this is a feature, not a bug.  Who is more likely to vote democrat: people who are self-reliant and work for what they have, or people who sit back on the couch and wait for their next check?

    • Great.  So, not only is it harder and harder to get a full-time job, now one can’t even get a temp job to try to keep his skills fresh and bring in some honest money.

      A country full of people that, one day, wanted to be rich are now going to have to be content to have SOME money coming in.
      Such are the things that happen when a nation throws a tantrum, as they did in 2006 and again in 2008.

      • SharpshooterSuch are the things that happen when a nation throws a tantrum…

        I thought about this is relation to the post by McQ a few days ago regarding the left’s disenchantment with Captain Bullsh*t and especially the hysterical accusations against Bush.  Put simply, they HATED him, and CB’s election was less about “hope and change” than it was about hatred and revenge.