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Staffing Companies are “Picking Up Steam”

October 10, 2004
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Last week’s employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provided fodder for labor-market optimists and pessimists. One sector, however, that is clearly holding steady is the contingent-staffing field.

Staffing Industry Analysts, a Los Altos, California, research firm, reports that "temporary help providers added an impressive 47,200 employees (seasonally unadjusted) to U.S. payrolls during the month of September, following a gain of 81,900 in August. Since January 2004, the industry has added 425,000 jobs, or more than 50,000 per month for the past eight months…we sense that many staffing companies are picking up steam."

The staffing analysts believe that employers’ continued reluctance to add permanent jobs has helped the contingent-staffing sector, and that high-margin jobs such as accounting and legal are particularly strong.

Temp numbers have been strong for more than a year, says Reesa Staten, vice president and director of research for Robert Half International, which is the largest staffing-services firm that specializes in accounting, finance and information technology jobs.

"It’s probably emblematic of the fact that companies are still a little hesitant to add full-time staff," Staten adds. "Business activity is up. There’s work to be done. You’ve got a combination of work to be done and hesitation in terms of adding full-time jobs because they’re not sure where the economy is headed."

The demand is particularly strong, Staten says, for public companies needing employees to help them comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley law.

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