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Wary Employers Turn to Temporary Workers

Wall Street Journal (10/22/13) Brenda Cronin

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, staffing firms provided 20,000 of the 148,000 jobs created in September. The industry now has as large a share of all U.S. jobs as it had in early 2000. In April 2000, temporary work accounted for 2.03% of all seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll positions; this dropped to 1.34% in mid-2009, but has just returned to just under 2.02%. However, businesses are slowing their pace of temporary hiring. “Every business I know is operating at a higher level of efficiency postrecession than prerecession,” says Richard Wahlquist, chief executive of the American Staffing Association. “American businesses just have not had a sufficient increase in demand for products and services to add big numbers of workers.”

The double-digit growth staffing firms experienced early in the recovery has slowed. According to Wahlquist, “It’s still slowing down in 2013, but our data indicate growth nonetheless.” He says the industry allows workers and employers to get to know each other before making a commitment. The thinking among businesses is “let these people audition for me, let us audition for them and maybe after three to six months, we’ll find that this is a good match.”