Staffing industry employment the week before Christmas showed greater strength than usual—compared with the same period of previous years as well as the months leading up the holiday. Typically, staffing employment peaks somewhere between mid-November and mid-December, after which it plummets unfettered for several weeks before turning upward in mid-January. Temporary and contract employment, as measured by the ASA Staffing Index, recorded fewer job losses than observed in prior years. Paradoxically, a decline in job losses suggests improved performance over the long term.
The ASA Staffing Index for the week of Dec. 19–25 came in at 86, a decline of 6.96% from the index of the previous week, which was at 93. Temporary and contract jobs are practically certain to drop off the last two weeks of the year, but the index suggests that the week ending Dec. 18 may have been the industry’s employment peak all of 2011.
The index illustrates the unusual length and strength of staffing employment around the end of its annual cycle. Growth occurred virtually nonstop throughout the year, but its pace slowed in August, putting year-to-year comparisons in the red. The index for the week ending Dec. 25 put staffing jobs in green, positive territory. Interpretation is complicated this time of year, though, because 2011 is a year that actually has 53 weeks. Let’s get through the 53rd week before we break out the champagne. Oh, but that might be complicated too, by this calendar rarity.
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