An encouraging jobs report Friday underscored the growing prominence of temporary workers who some experts predict could constitute up to a quarter of the workforce in a few years.
A big reason employers shed a far-less-than-expected 11,000 jobs last month is that temporary staffing agencies found slots for 52,000 additional workers, the most since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said.
That’s a good sign because cautious employers typically hire temps in a recovery before bringing on full-time staffers.
“Companies are hesitant to say demand is lasting and they go first to the contract labor market,” says Manpower CEO Jeff Joerres. The No. 1 staffing agency’s business rose 10% to 15% last quarter, he says.
Fifteen years ago, most temporary slots were for office work, but more than half are now filled by professionals such as engineers and physicians, Asin says. Business Talent Group, which places executives, saw its second-quarter business rise 70%. “You can choose your projects and if something’s not working out, you can move on” or “take a hiatus,” company co-founder Amelia Tyagi says.