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Temporary Staffing Adding Jobs at Near Record Pace

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By Phil Cohen

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that on a seasonally adjusted basis, around 2,679,800 people were employed as temporary workers in the U.S. in May. Last month, 25,600 temporary workers were added to the nation’s payroll, bringing the number of people employed as temps to the highest it’s been since before the year 2000.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, temp workers numbered 2,659,300 in May, close to the record of 2,767,300 temps working in October 2006.

According to Chair of the Department of Organizational Behavior Pam Tolbert, of Cornell University, the number of professionals working on a temporary or contract basis is increasing. “When people think of temp workers they think of blue collar, house cleaners, contractors, etc., but in fact the phenomenon is much more pervasive and growing,” Tolbert said.

Temporary staffing jobs currently make up 1.98% of nonfarm payrolls, which is just below the previous record of 2.03%, but higher than at any time when the unemployment rate was over 4.1%. This is an impressive feat because temp employment usually peaks with the economic cycle as stringent labor markets cause temp agency to be more crucial for filling short-term hiring needs.

Investors Daily’s website called the rise in temp workers hired “no surprise” because of the impending health care reform law which will force companies with over 50 employees to offer affordable health care to its workers. Staffing agencies can help companies skirt this measure by providing temporary workers who won’t affect the 50 workers threshold that the business must provide health care for.

Keith Waddell, chief financial officer of Robert Half International, said earlier this year that “we can legally help them [companies trying to avoid having to offer the required health insurance] remain under 50, since we are the employer of record for the temporaries we provide to them.”

Since practically all temp-agency employment lasts for less than a year, those workers can still qualify as part-time under ObamaCare, even if they actually work full-time for up to six months or potentially longer.

“Most temporary or contract workers will be considered ‘variable’ and not eligible for insurance coverage,” wrote Jeanne Knutzen, PACE Staffing Network CEO, in a message to clients last month.

According to a survey conducted by the American Staffing Association (ASA), on any given day during the first quarter of 2013, there were 2.86 million temp workers employed on average in the U.S.

In a statement, Richard Wahlquist, ASA President and CEO said, “Temporary and contract employment is a good indicator of where the economy is today.”

According to ASA, most staffing firms expect to see slow but steady growth in the employment of temporary and contract workers in the coming months. No-strings-attached staffing relationships have found support with employers post-recession.

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Phil Cohen

About the author

Philip Cohen is the founder and President of PRN Funding, LLC. PRN Funding is an extraordinarily focused niche player in healthcare funding. With years of…... Read More

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