Temp and contract labor staffing firms ended 2012 as one of the leading contributors to job growth over the past 12 months.
For the year, temp firms added 153,400 jobs to the economy. That represents 8.4% of the 1.835 million jobs created in 2012. On average, the industry added 12,800 new jobs a month. Only a handful of other industries added more jobs, among them, healthcare (+337,700), and food services and drinking places (+285,600).
With 2.55 million temp and contract workers on the job in December, the industry is now only 107,700 new jobs away from its 10 year high of 2.6574 million workers reached in August 2006. The growth in temp services is due, in part, to the hesitancy by employers to add permanent staff in the face of uncertain economic conditions.
Increasingly though, employers see temps as a strategic part of their workforce mix. A survey by Staffing Industry Analysts found that the percentage of temps among employers of 1,000+ workers has risen to 16% from 15% in 20111 and from 11% in 2005
“The contingent workforce is now included in core strategic planning and utilized in a critical way to flex talent muscle,” writes Adrianne Nelson, director of SIA’s global services. “The recession made visible all the advantages of contingent labor. And today there is a recognition that talent comes in different packages, flexible and traditional.”
Likewise, Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association, attributed the growth in temp workers to businesses “strategically (embracing) flexible work force solutions to increase productivity and competitiveness. Although temporary and contract employment represents just under 2% of total employment, staffing firms accounted for 8% of all of new jobs created in 2012.”
The outlook for temp services in 2013 continues to be strong. A CareerBuilder survey of corporate HR leaders and hiring managers found 40% of employers plan to hire temporary and contract workers up from 36% last year. Among these employers, 42% plan to transition some temporary workers into full-time, permanent employees over the next 12 months.