The number of temporary and contract workers employed by U.S. staffing companies eased 1.7% to an average of 2.4 million workers per week from the second to the third quarter of 2023, according to the ASA Staffing Employment and Sales Survey.

The decline reflects the overall slowdown in the pace of job creation during much of the past year among employers of all sizes in the face of volatile macroeconomic and geopolitical conditions and forecasts. Amid that cooling job market, temporary and contract staffing sales also declined by 3.5% during the same period.

On a year-to-year basis, staffing jobs declined 14.1% in the third quarter of 2023, while temporary and contract staffing sales decreased 14.5% to total $34.7 billion in the third quarter of 2023. Survey respondents are cautiously optimistic about the new year.

“As always, the staffing, recruiting, and talent solutions industry pivots quickly to assist employers with their variable and changing needs for flexible and permanent staff. In contrast to the furious pace of hiring in late 2021 and much of 2022, employers are now settling into a new normal of slow and steady growth,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA chief executive officer. “But with 1.3 openings per worker, labor markets remain tight and employers continue to struggle with recruiting workers with the most in-demand skill sets—something we expect to continue for the foreseeable future.”

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