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The Hidden Indicator Pointing to Bad News for Jobs

Washington Post (10/19/12) Neil Irwin

Temporary employment is one of the better predictors of what the job market will do in the months ahead, and recent trends in the category point toward even slower job creation in the final months of the year than the sluggish hiring that has been evident through 2012 so far. Since 1990, the change in temporary employment over a three month period has a 77% correlation with overall job growth in the ensuing three months. Temporary help employment has flattened out in the last two months, even declining by 2,000 jobs in September. In the first six months of the year, by contrast, the sector added an average of 21,000 jobs a month. If the historical relationship holds up, the weak growth in the third quarter would predict that overall job growth in the final three months of 2012 will be only 72,000 jobs a month.