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BLS: Staffing Employment Holds Steady in May

Seasonally adjusted jobs data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that staffing employment remained relatively unchanged, up 0.4% from April to May (9,200 jobs). In a year-to-year comparison, temporary help employment for the month was 8.5% higher than in May 2011.

Overall U.S. nonfarm employment showed little growth, increasing by 69,000 jobs from April to May. During the first three months of 2012, the average rate of monthly job creation was 226,000; by contrast, the monthly average for April and May was 73,000.

“A disappointingly dreary start to the summer jobs season, but not a surprise because overall employment lags economic trends, and gross domestic product for the first quarter has been adjusted downward,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “The nonseasonally adjusted numbers for temporary help employment, which provides a real-time snapshot of what’s going on in the economy, suggests continued—albeit agonizingly slow—improvement.”

Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that the staffing industry added 73,000 jobs (up 3.0%) from April to May. On a year-to-year basis, there were 8.4% more staffing employees in May compared with the same month in 2011.

Health care employment increased by 33,000 (mostly in ambulatory health care services); transportation and warehousing rose by 36,000 jobs; and wholesale trade added 16,000 jobs over the month. Employment declines were noted in construction (-28,000), with most of the job losses concentrated in specialty trade contractors and in heavy and civil engineering construction.