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Temporary Workers’ Numbers Climbing in Rocky Economy

USA Today (07/07/12) Paul Davidson

The number of temporary workers rose by 25,000 in the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly employment report issued on July 6, making up nearly a third of the total 80,000 payroll gains in June. The hiring of temporary employees traditionally augurs the addition of permanent staff, but staffing firms and company executives note temporary employees are keeping that status longer, in part due to nervousness about the unsettled economy. Also, many businesses are using contractors and other temporary workers on an ongoing basis to better meet fluctuating demand and enlist workers with specialized skills for short-term projects.

The addition of temporary and contract workers the past two years has not consistently led to stronger permanent job growth. The number of temporary workers placed by staffing firms is up 20% since June 2010, while total payrolls are up just 2.3%.

ManpowerGroup CEO Jeff Joerres reports about 30% of the temporary employees the staffing firm has placed this year have been converted to permanent status, compared with 45% last year. “They’re loath to hire because they’ve been burned too many times” in a halting recovery, he says.