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Staffing Shares Mixed After Slow Jobs Growth

Reuters (04/09/12) Lynn Adler

After the release of the March jobs report, indicating the lowest level of hiring since October, shares of several staffing firms fell on April 9. ManpowerGroup’s shares were down 2.6%, while Robert Half International fell 3.1%, Kelly Services dipped 1.7%, and TrueBlue Inc. declined 3%. However, shares rose 1.4% for Hudson Highland, 1.2% for Adecco, 2.7% for Randstad, and 0.9% for Michael Page. Jeff Joerres, chief executive of ManpowerGroup, says, “The trend we’ve seen over the last three or four months continues, which is a slow, kind of trudging, clawing out of the hole that we’ve been in. For the second half, we expect more of the same—slow, having some spurts of better months than not.”

J.P. Morgan analysts reported on April 9 that flexible staffing as a percentage of nonfarm payrolls reached 1.87% last month, up from 1.75% in July 2011 and 1.34% in June 2009, noting, “In our view, penetration will continue to increase as the memory of the Great Recession continues to spur businesses to look to flex staffing as a source of agility.” Most of the new jobs are in accounting, finance, and information technology, according to Joanie Ruge, chief employment analyst at Randstad Holding U.S., and many of them are long-term projects that could lead to permanent employment.