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Staffing Employment Declined in First Quarter of 2024

U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.2 million temporary and contract workers per week in the first quarter of 2024, according to data released today by the American Staffing Association—down by 186,000 from the fourth quarter of 2023.

On a quarter-to-quarter basis, staffing employment and sales typically decline in the first quarter, grow in subsequent quarters, and peak in the fourth quarter. Staffing employment, however, declined at the end of 2023 as the industry contended with tightening macroeconomic conditions that slowed staffing growth. Thus, while a quarter-to-quarter decline of 7.7% in staffing employment is on par with the average since 2008, on a year-to-year basis staffing employment fell 13.9%.

Temporary and contract staffing sales declined in a similar manner. Totaling $31.5 billion in the first quarter of 2024, staffing sales were down 8.4% from the fourth quarter of 2023 and down 15.9% from the first quarter of 2023. Looking ahead, private staffing companies are projecting their third quarter revenue to grow 1.6% year-to-year, and their full year 2024 sales to increase 0.7%, compared with 2023.

“The labor market remains healthy despite some erosion from tightening economic conditions. Growth is strong but concentrated within a handful of sectors, which raises the bar for staffing and recruiting companies when finding new opportunities to serve clients and talent,” said ASA chief executive officer Richard Wahlquist. “Staffing companies are often the first to face the costs of lower labor demand, and the first to benefit in the uptick that lies beyond the trough. With increasing odds of a soft landing, staffing and recruiting companies are cautiously optimistic about the second half of the year as economic conditions normalize.”