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First Quarter Staffing Employment Increases 5.5% Despite GDP Contraction

U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 3.13 million temporary and contract workers per week in the first quarter of 2015, up 5.5% from the same period in 2014, according to data released today by the American Staffing Association. Despite harsh winter weather, average weekly employment from January through March increased across a majority of industry sectors.

“Even with weak economic growth in the first quarter, demand for temporary and contract talent increased as businesses increased the size of their flexible and permanent workforces,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “The continued growth in staffing employment means more long-term opportunities for job seekers.”

Temporary and contract staffing sales totaled $28.08 billion in the first quarter of 2015, 5.4% higher than in the same period last year.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. Increased Again

Conference Board News Release (06/18/15)

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.7% in May to 123.1, following a 0.7% increase in April.

“The U.S. LEI increased sharply again in May, confirming the outlook for more economic expansion in the second half of the year after what looks to be a much weaker first half,” says Ataman Ozyildirim, director, business cycles and growth research, at the Conference Board. “While residential construction and consumer expectations support the more positive outlook, industrial production and new orders in manufacturing are painting a somewhat more mixed picture.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.1% in May to 112.1, following a 0.2% increase in April. The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.2% in May to 117.0, following a 0.2% increase in April.

U.S. Consumer Prices Rose 0.4% in May

Wall Street Journal (06/18/15) Eric Morath; Jeffrey Sparshott

Consumer prices posted the largest monthly increase in May since February 2013, a signal of modest inflation. The consumer-price index increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in May from April, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Higher gasoline prices drove the overall index higher. Excluding the energy and food categories, core prices rose 0.1%. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast overall prices would rise 0.5% and core prices would increase 0.2%.

Overall prices were unchanged from a year ago, and core prices were up 1.7%.

Jobless Claims Drop 12,000 to 267,000 in Mid-June

MarketWatch (06/18/15) Jeffry Bartash

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to 267,000 in the week ending June 13, maintaining a 15-year low. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 279,000. Meanwhile, the average of new claims over the past month dropped by 2,000 to 276,750.

Fed Flags Slow Pace for Rate Hikes

Wall Street Journal (06/17/15) Jon Hilsenrath

Despite the winter economic slowdown, the U.S. Federal Reserve has indicated that it is moving forward with interest-rate increases later this year. With the economy now firmer after a winter slump, and stronger than it has been in the last several years, Fed chairman Janet Yellen stated that conditions have reached a point where gradual increases in the target federal-funds rate are warranted.

Officials want to be sure that inflation is moving up and that there is more progress on jobs, and only gradually raising interest rates allows for that security. The Fed suggested that while it expects to start raising short-term interest rates before the end of 2015, it may only raise those rates once this year, and only by a quarter percentage point, contradicting earlier forecasts. The central bank, in economic projections supplementing the Fed’s statement, also revised down its growth estimate for 2015. While economic output was thought to be expanding by 2.3% to 2.7% in March, the latest revised estimate puts output growth at 1.8% to 2.0%.

Free ASA Webinar Today—Make the Most of Recruiting Technology

Don’t miss the ASA webinar “Staffing in the Digital Age—Overcome Five Recruiting Technology Roadblocks.” It takes place today from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time. Learn technology practices that will help your staffing firm get the greatest return from its recruitment efforts.

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

Three Exciting Keynote Presentations at Staffing World® 2015

Staffing World 2015, the largest, most comprehensive convention and expo in the staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry, takes place Oct. 27–29 in Nashville, TN.

Headlining the convention are three world-class keynote speakers:

  • Stephen J. Dubner, award-winning journalist and co-author of books such as Freakonomics and When to Rob a Bank: And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants; presenting “Retrain Your Business Brain—Think Like a Freak”
  • Jim Clifton, chairman and chief executive officer of Gallup; presenting “Good to Great? Or Lousy to Good? Achieving Sustainable Organic Growth Through Engaged Client Relationships”
  • Seth Mattison, founder and chief movement officer of FutureSight Labs; presenting “The Great Business Shift—Building Next-Generation Enterprises for a Next-Generation Workforce”

And there’s more in store at Staffing World—check out for the convention agenda, travel information, exhibitor information, and more, and register for Staffing World today. Save up to $150 per person when you register by Sept. 11.