March 21, 2024

Staffing Employment Fell in 2023 but the Contraction Slowed in the Fourth Quarter

U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.4 million temporary and contract workers per week in the fourth quarter of 2023. Compared with historic levels of growth in 2022 for the staffing industry, this marks a decrease of 16.8% from 2.9 million workers per week in 2022 during the same period, and a 12.5% decrease for the full year from 2022 to 2023.

On a quarter-to-quarter basis, average weekly staffing employment eased 0.6% from the third quarter to the fourth quarter—around 14,000 fewer staffing jobs. This bucks the typical seasonal pattern of staffing employment growth from Q2 to Q4 after a fall in Q1. However, even though staffing employment decreased every quarter in 2023, Q4 saw the smallest quarterly decline.

“While demand cooled during most of 2023, this last quarter saw the smallest quarter-to-quarter decreases in staffing sales and hires,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA chief executive officer. “Industry members are cautiously optimistic about a return to growth later this year.”

Annual sales for temporary and contract staffing totaled $142.4 billion in 2023, a decrease of 10.5% from the record high number of $159.1 billion in 2022, but on par with the level seen in 2021. Temporary and contract staffing sales totaled $34.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, down 16.1% from the same quarter in the previous year. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, staffing sales edged down 0.9% from the third quarter to the fourth quarter.

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