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Demand for Contingent Workers Will Be Strong In 2017

January 10th, 2017
With the economy poised for greater growth in 2017 and unemployment falling to its historic levels -- or even lower -- temporary staffing is expected to continue to expand in 2017.

Staffing Industry Analysts noted that "the prevailing trend for temporary help jobs over the second half of 2016 has been fairly positive." On a seasonally adjusted basis, staffing agencies employed almost 70,000 more workers in December than they did at the beginning of the year. This year could see even greater growth, according to SIA.

A number of factors are driving the increase in temporary staffing. The strongest is the changing nature of how companies manage their workforce. While temporary help historically was a seasonal corporate strategy, now companies are embracing the notion of bringing on top talent to help with specific projects.

A couple years ago, supply management firm Ardent Partners reported that 92% of companies said non-traditional staffing was a vital to moderate facet of their overall corporate strategy. The firm also found a third of the average company’s workforce fell into the contingent or contract-based category.

This strategic shift might have happened anyway, but it gained tremendous impetus during the Great Recession when companies laid off thousands of workers. The experience itself was traumatic for workers and for employers. Not wanting to go through a cycle of hiring and layoff, companies brought on workers to fill temporary labor needs. At the same time, many of those who had lost jobs embraced contract and freelance work, in many cases finding it suited them better. A blog post explains this shift.

In addition, as the recovery gained strength and hiring picked up, employers found it more and more difficult to find the combination of skills and experience they wanted. Many were compelled to take a project approach, turning to staffing firms like Green Key Resources for the help they needed.

Meanwhile, the notion of what a temp worker is has changed radically. Contingent workers now include highly skilled cybersecurity experts, HR consultants, auditors, web designers, engineers, project managers and others who prefer the freedom of being able to choose their own assignments.

Looking ahead, the demand for these workers will grow even greater this year. With the unemployment rate for all Americans at 4.7% -- and 2.5% for the college educated -- and the number of Americans in the labor force at a 40 year low, every indication is that more employers than ever will be recruiting contingent workers. And, as the Business2Community article notes, "Temporary workers are going to benefit more from staffing agencies. They need to find places where their work experience is applicable and fits their personality and branding."

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