Friday, March 05, 2010

Record 5-Month Increase in Temporary Workers

From today's BLS employment report:

1) Manufacturing overtime hours decreased slightly to 3.4 hours in February from 3.5 hours in January, which was the highest level since August 2008 (see graph). This marks the first decline in overtime hours following ten straight months that overtime hours either increased or stayed the same as the previous month, which followed 16 months of declines (or no change) in average overtime hours. Despite the February decrease of .10 hours, overtime hours are still 26% above the level last February of 2.7 hours.

2) The number of temporary help workers increased in February by 47,500 to 2,008,700 employees, the highest level since December 2008 (see graph above). The February increase follows similar recent monthly increases of 50,200 in January and 49,700 in December. Temporary workers increased in February for the fifth straight month - the first time since 2005 of five consecutive monthly increases. The 284,000 increase in temporary jobs since the September-low is the largest 5-month increase since this data series started in 1990.

As I
reported on Tuesday, The American Staffing Association's Staffing Index increased almost 11% this week from a year ago, the highest annual increase in three years. That 11% increase marked the 13th consecutive week of positive (or flat) increases in the ASA Staffing Index compared to the same week in the previous year, following 80 consecutive weeks of decreases from May 2008 through mid-November 2009.

The fifth monthly increase in Temporary Help Workers according to the BLS, along with similar recent improvements in the ASA Staffing Index, provide evidence that the labor market is gradually improving. In these early stages of economic recovery, employers remain cautious in their hiring decisions, and use temporary workers initially to meet the higher demand for their products. Hopefully, as the economic rebound gathers greater momentum in the coming months and employers become more confident about a continued expansion, they'll start hiring permanent workers.


Update: See "Surprisingly Strong Job Figures" by Floyd Norris in the NY Times.

12 Comments:

At 3/05/2010 10:39 AM, Blogger Entre Nous said...

May I add...

My children were never fortunate enough to attend college.

Since becoming adults, they have worked various "non-professional" jobs over the past 25 years. They are in the first group that gets laid off or let go when the economy tanks.

Maybe pride is a problem but... they have never applied for any sort of state or federal assist, least of all unemployment...

Basically they are off the radar. Which leads to my question, how many thousands of others in each state choose the same position, hence are not counted in those ridiculous graphs?

Joni

 
At 3/05/2010 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news. Harry Reid agrees.

 
At 3/05/2010 11:03 AM, Blogger bobble said...

"Hopefully, as the economic rebound gathers greater momentum in the coming months . . employers . . . start hiring permanent workers."

i think that, increasingly, the workforce is becoming permanently temporary.

this may not be a bad thing [i was a contract worker for 25 years by choice], but it's another paradigm shift workers are going to need to get used to.

 
At 3/05/2010 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of the temps may have been hired for the 2010 Census:

Hiring for the 2010 Census accounted for 15,000 jobs last month, the department said. The government expects to hire 1 million temporary census workers this year.

AP

 
At 3/05/2010 11:17 AM, Anonymous Arintha said...

You're making the classic error of believing the present and future will resemble the past. Increases in temporary employment MIGHT be a pre-cursor to employment growth. The rationale is that a firm at low employment levels and production sees an increase in production. They hire temporary workers because they are unsure whether the increase is temporary or permanent. If the production increase is sustained, then they may turn the temp jobs into permanent jobs, although not necessarily the temps they had hired.

If the increase in production is temporary, employment of temp workers will subside. These "temps" could be only on a week assignment or a two-year term appointment. The duration relates to the degree of uncertainty.

All this tells us is that we have at least a temporary increase in PRODUCTION. Those who care to prognosticate further are just flapping their gums. One could make a more informed prediction by analyzing in detail the nature of these temporary hires, but that requires actual research, not preconceived pontification with a cup of coffee wearing a bathrobe sitting in front of a computer before leaving for "work".

In 6 months we'll know for sure whether these production increases are sustained and employment has become permanent. What shall we say then if payroll employment remains stagnant, unemployment high, production tepid (or worse) and temp workers still temp.

 
At 3/05/2010 11:26 AM, Anonymous Coo Duc said...

Entres Nous:

I don't want to diminish your point but rather address an inaccuracy. Unemployment benefits are a state, nit a federal program. Only the recent extended unemployment benefits come from federal coffers.

Unemployment insurance is a benefit you receive from working. Your employer pays a premium to the insurer and since it affects the demand for labor, some of that cost is passed on to workers.

Collecting unemployment is not welfare. You are getting back some of the money you paid into that system. By no means am I saying unemployment insurance, largely administered by states as pay-go or out of a fund, is efficient or fair. It's criminal how some states have administered the program. It's criminal how they redistribute wealth with relatively higher payments to lower wage people. But collecting unemployment is just compensation for payments you've already made.

With this looter government, I'm collecting every dime of benefit I can whether I agree with the program or not. They're already taking my money. I'm just getting a rebate. But I'll gladly vote to end the rebates AND the taxation.

 
At 3/05/2010 12:42 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

Coo Duc, You are a looter also. The employer pays the unemployment taxes. Every year I (small business owner) pay thousands and thousands of $ to employ people because these taxes are mandated by the state of Washington. Ironically, I would have more employees but taxes such as these make it too expensive.

So, I provide you a motivational video to inspire you to "Get A Job"

 
At 3/05/2010 2:03 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

and yet U6 is up again.

 
At 3/05/2010 5:14 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


i think that, increasingly, the workforce is becoming permanently temporary.

That's a problem.


this may not be a bad thing [i was a contract worker for 25 years by choice], but it's another paradigm shift workers are going to need to get used to.

No thanks, but I'm not wanting Europe where permatemps appear to be the rule. Temporary workers are already considered 2nd class citizens.

 
At 3/05/2010 5:16 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Coo Duc, You are a looter also. The employer pays the unemployment taxes. Every year I (small business owner) pay thousands and thousands of $ to employ people because these taxes are mandated by the state of Washington. Ironically, I would have more employees but taxes such as these make it too expensive.

The problem is that you have a Catch-22 situation. The employer doesn't want to hire because of unemployment taxes, and the person looking for work can't find it.

No, self-employment isn't the universal answer.

 
At 3/05/2010 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Obama counted in this, 'cause I'm pretty sure he's temporary.

 
At 3/06/2010 2:11 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Is Obama counted in this, 'cause I'm pretty sure he's temporary.

Well, the President of the United States is a temporary job by virtue of Constitutional Amendment.

It doesn't matter who is in there, it is a temporary job with a 4 year term. The election is the performance review on whether they get the only renewal.

 

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