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BLS: Staffing Strong in Weak December Jobs Report

Seasonally adjusted employment data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that temporary help employment added 40,400 new jobs in December (up 1.5% from November). In a year-to-year comparison, staffing firms employed 9.6% more temporary workers in December than in the same month a year ago, according to BLS.

Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that the staffing industry added 17,500 jobs in December (up 0.6% from November). On a year-to-year basis, there were 9.0% more staffing employees in December than in the same month last year.

“We expect to see a continued increase in the strategic use of workforce solutions designed to help companies more effectively source and utilize talent in the year ahead,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “This is good news because it means more employment opportunities and options for U.S. workers.”

Total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 74,000 jobs in December, BLS reported. Economists expected 200,000 or more. Monthly job gains averaged 182,000 in 2013. The unemployment rate declined from 7.0% to 6.7% in December.

Temporary help as a percentage of total nonfarm employment increased to 2.06%, appearing to set a new record over the 2.03% penetration rate peak in April 2000. However, BLS data will be revised several times in the coming months.

U.S. Unemployment Benefits Extension Stalls in Senate

Reuters (01/09/14) Richard Cowan

A compromise plan to extend unemployment benefits proposed by Senate Democrats, including structural changes and planned funding requested by Republicans, has stalled in the U.S. Senate. Republicans rejected the initiative. While Democrats have the majority, they need Republican support to overcome procedural maneuvers to win passage.

Approximately 1.4 million people have been left without weekly benefits because of the expiration of extended unemployment insurance. Democrats have pushed for a one-year extension, while Republicans have offered support for a three-month extension.

Yellen Eyeing Turnover as Confident Workers Quit Jobs

Bloomberg Businessweek (01/09/14) Anna-Louise Jackson; Anthony Feld

Janet Yellen, the incoming chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is monitoring a new trend—more people are choosing to quit their jobs as their confidence about business conditions grows. Information about voluntary separations is one of six gauges Yellen says she uses to assess the strength of the labor market. At a conference last spring, she said, “a pickup in the quit rate, which also remains at a low level, would signal that workers perceive that their chances to be rehired are good— in other words, that labor demand has strengthened.”

The quit rate has been “slowly grinding higher” and likely will continue to increase this year, says Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group, an institutional equity-trading broker. However, Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., disagrees. The underlying data show that “things don’t look as good as they seem,” he says.

The number of people who quit their jobs in October is about 24% below a pre-recession peak of 3.1 million in November 2006, when the quit ratio was 58%, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor.

More U.S. Economists See Half-Full Glass

New York Times (01/10/14) Nelson D. Schwartz

A number of economists have revised their U.S. economic forecasts as exports have risen, the trade deficit has declined over four years, consumer spending has improved, and job creation has slowly picked up. Expectations for growth in late 2013 and early 2014 could signal a more sustained economic expansion, but many economists still remain cautious.

Barclays chief U.S. economist Dean Maki indicates the economy expanded at an annualized pace of 3.0% in October, November, and December, and he estimates that consumer spending increased at a 3.8% rate in the same period, the fastest in three years. Should Maki’s forecasts be correct, the American economy would have grown at a 3.0% rate in the fourth quarter, after the 4.1% gain in the third quarter, marking the best back-to-back quarterly performance in two years and adding up to a gain for the year of about 2.7%.

Free ASAPro Webinar Next Month—Transforming the Staffing Industry

Technology is causing changes in the staffing industry—is your firm prepared to make the necessary adaptations? Learn strategies to help prepare for technological changes that will affect the industry during the ASAPro webinar “The Future of Work—Will You Have an Assignment, a Job, or a Career?” It takes place Tuesday, Feb. 4, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time.

All ASAPro webinars are free for ASA members, and most qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. To learn more and to register, visit

Welcome New ASA Members

The ASA board of directors and staff welcome the following new members, which joined during the week of Dec. 30.

Allcor Staffing

Alcoa, TN

Ammon Staffing

Baton Rouge, LA

EMI Staffing

Grenada, MS

Superior Group

Williamsville, NY

Time to Hire

Issaquah, WA