Staffing Index Off December High As Overall Hiring Slows

Feb 4, 2015

ASA Staffing Index 1.2015After adding a hefty 253,000 jobs in December, private employers slowed their hiring in the first month of the year, adding an estimated 213,000 jobs in January.

This morning’s National Employment Report from HR services company ADP and its partner Moody’s Analytics, was below consensus forecasts from economists who had pegged the increase between 220,000 and 240,000. The report  revised up the initial December count from 241,000 to 253,000.

Mark Zandi, chief economists for Moody’s, blamed cuts in the energy industry for the slower than expected growth. “Businesses in the energy and supplying industries are already scaling back payrolls in reaction to the collapse in oil prices, while industries benefiting from the lower prices have been slower to increase their hiring,” he said, optimistically adding, “All indications are that the job market will continue to improve in 2015.”

The effect of the energy sector slowdown on staffing and search isn’t clear. The American Staffing Association’s Staffing Index was reported last week at 96.1, well off its historic high of 107.54 set on December 12. However, the ASA noted that it was a record high for the survey period and was 5.4% higher than for the same, third week of the year in 2014.

The government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics will report the official employment numbers Friday, which will include initial counts for temp agency employees. Employee counts for search firms, employment agencies, and PEOs will also be released. These counts, for December, run a month behind the national numbers.

Economists are forecasting BLS report will show the economy added about 237,000 non-farm private and government jobs in January. The unemployment rate is predicted to remain at 5.6%t or decline slightly.

ADP Report 1.2015According to the ADP report, the biggest change in hiring was among the smallest employers — those with fewer than 50 workers. Small businesses have been a jobs engine throughout the recovery, typically adding more workers monthly than larger employers. In January, small business employers added 78,000 jobs, down from December’s 115,000.

In contrast, mid-sized businesses — those with 50-499 workers — grew hiring to 95,000 in January from December’s 78,000.  Employers with more than 500 workers added 40,000 jobs, off by 21,000 from December.