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BLS: Staffing Jobs Hold Steady in August; Staffing Up 8.9% From a Year Ago

Seasonally adjusted employment data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that staffing industry jobs eased by 4,900 (down 0.2%) from July to August. In a year-to-year comparison, temporary help employment for the month was 8.9% higher than in August 2011.

Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that the staffing industry added 49,000 jobs (up 2.0%) from July to August. On a year-to-year basis, there were 9.0% more staffing employees in August compared with the same month in 2011.

“Staffing and recruiting firms generally continued to report moderate growth as we moved into September,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “However, clients continue to be extremely cautious about adding personnel.”

Overall U.S. nonfarm job growth slowed in August as the economy added 96,000 jobs over the month—down from the 141,000 jobs added in July and considerably lower than the 120,000 jobs many economists were predicting. Since January of this year, employment growth has averaged 139,000 per month compared with the average monthly gain of 153,000 the economy experienced last year. In August, most of the employment growth was driven by new job creation in food services and drinking places, professional and technical services, and health care.

Food services and drinking places added 28,000 jobs over the month; professional and technical services employment rose by 27,000 jobs; and health care employment rose by 17,000 new jobs over the month. Employment declines were noted in the manufacturing sector (-15,000), with most of the losses concentrated in motor vehicles and parts (-8,000).

The overall unemployment rate edged down to 8.1% from 8.3%. This was mostly due to the 368,000 people who stopped looking for work and therefore are no longer counted as part of the civilian labor force.