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More Hires on the Horizon?

Maryland Gazette (01/13/12) Shay, Kevin James; Robbins, Lindsey

Coming off the state’s strongest year for job creation since 2005, many Maryland employers are cautiously optimistic they can build on that trend this year, even though many businesses continue to struggle. Temporary-help employers often serve as a bellwether for permanent hiring trends. Temporary help employment nationally for December was 4.4% higher than a year ago, according to federal figures. “Staffing firms added about 100,000 new jobs to the economy in 2011,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association. “And indicators remain positive for the year ahead.”

Wanda Smith, president and CEO of Symphony Placements—a Timonium, MD, staffing services firm—reports her company had a strong finish in 2011 and expects that to continue this year. Gross sales finished up 20%, while profits continued to increase over 2010 despite the continuation of high state tax assessments for unemployment. In 2011, staffing firms faced challenges in finding qualified individuals who were actually serious about finding a job, she says, noting that many did not want to jeopardize their unemployment benefits. “As the unemployment figures fall, this will continue to be a strong challenge,” Smith says. Clients are particularly using temporary-to-permanent hires to fill new openings, as well as to cover for long-term vacancies due to illness, she adds.