On the heels of a survey finding that a quarter of all employers plan to add temporary staff this quarter comes a forecast that temp agency staffing will increase 8.7 percent over last year.
Temp industry consultant G. Palmer & Associates says temp employment will average 2.978 million workers in the fourth quarter. For the last quarter of 2013, the average was 2.739 million. As of September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports temp agencies employed a record 2.934 million workers.
“Our forecast for the 2014 fourth quarter follows recent trends, demonstrating growth and indicating another increase in demand for temporary workers, marking the 19th consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases,” says Greg Palmer, founder and managing director of the Newport Beach, California human capital advisory firm.
“The data is also showing that with the advent of lower unemployment rates, labor is tightening, wages in certain categories are increasing, and temp help as a percentage of new job growth is beginning to tapper off,” he adds.
In August, it took an average of 26.5 working days (Mon-Sat) to fill a job, says the monthly Dice-DFH Vacancy Duration Measure. Sponsored by Dice Holdings, parent of several niche career sites, the measure is now at its highest level in 14 years.
Several individual sectors — construction, manufacturing, and financial services among them — are also above their previous highs. Manufacturing jobs, for instance, now take an average of 29.6 working days to fill.
The indicators, says Chicago University economist Dr. Steven Davis, “point to a considerable tightening of labor markets in recent months.” He is the co-creator of the vacancy duration measure.
Hiring difficulty, as well as the addition of contract labor and temps as a workforce strategy, has pushed staffing agencies to new heights. Since the beginning of the year, agencies have added workers at an average of 17,980 a month, a pace exceeded only once since 2000. That was in 2010 the first full year after the official end of the recession when temp expanded at an average of 29,230 workers a month.
Workers employed by staffing firms now account for 2.1 percent of the total U.S. workforce, a historic high. In addition, companies employ millions more temporary workers, usually referred to as the contingent workforce. Staffing Industry Analysts estimates that these temps account for somewhat more than 16 percent of the workforce at most large companies.