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BLS: Staffing Employment Steady in January, Up 5.1% From a Year Ago

Seasonally adjusted employment data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that staffing employment showed little change from December 2012 to January 2013 (-0.3%). In a year-to-year comparison, temporary help employment for the month was 5.1% higher than in January 2012. Over the previous 12 months, the temporary help industry has added an average of 10,400 jobs per month to the economy.

Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that the staffing industry shed 227,700 jobs (down 8.6%) from December 2012 to January 2013, very close to historical seasonal averages. On a year-to-year basis, there were 5.8% more staffing employees in January than in the same month last year.

Overall U.S. nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 jobs in January. During 2012, BLS reports, the economy added an average of 181,000 new jobs per month.

“Although American businesses continue to add jobs, they are just not seeing enough increases in demand to warrant significant new hiring, and the unemployment rate remains mired at the same level it was four years ago,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “However, ASA members are reporting that job markets across several sectors are slowly improving and many are cautiously optimistic that—unless political or international events throw the economy into a tailspin—business conditions will pick up during the months ahead.”

Employment growth was mostly driven by new job creation in retail trade (+33,000), construction (+28,000), health care (+23,000), and wholesale trade (+15,000). Job losses were noted in transportation and warehousing (-14,000).

Employment in other major industries, including financial activities, professional and businesses services, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little change over the month.

The overall U.S. unemployment rate was relatively unchanged, edging up slightly from 7.8% in December to 7.9% last month.

BLS noted that survey data had been revised as a result of the annual benchmarking process and the updating of seasonal adjustment factors.