HR News & Trends, Recruiting and Staffing

Temp Worker Hiring is Growing 5X Faster Than the Overall Economy

Photo by

With the addition of 25,600 temp workers to the nation’s payroll in May, there are now more workers employed as temps than at any time since before the start of the 21st century.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that on a seasonally adjusted basis some 2,679,800 people were employed as temporary workers in the U.S. last month. In the last year, the temp sector has averaged 15,500 new hires a month. Since the recession ended in June 2009, the average is just over 16,000 a month.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, temp workers numbered 2,659,300 in May, not far off from the record 2,767,300 temps working in October 2006.

Year-over-year growth: 7.5%

Year-over-year growth, on a seasonally adjusted basis, was 7.5 percent, a rate of growth five times that of the overall economy’s 1.56 percent jobs increase. In addition, the penetration rate — temp workers as a percent of the overall number of employed workers — rose to 1.98 percent, bumping against the all-time high of 2.03 percent.Temp-Workers-2000-2013

Calling the growth in temp workers “no surprise,” Investors Daily’s website attributed it in part to the impending Obamacare implementation. Staffing firms can provide workers to employers who, if they made direct hires, might hit the 50 worker threshold when they must provide affordable health plans or pay a fine. Temp providers can also help employers from having to classify project workers as full time, requiring them to offer them a health care plan.

However, staffing firms themselves have to carefully monitor their workforce size, since they, too, can become subject to having to provide a health plan once they reach their 50th worker.

The U.S. Census Bureau, meanwhile, last week released first-quarter revenue figures for the employment sector. (Temp makes up the largest part of this sector, which also includes employment agencies, registries, search firms, and professional employer organizations.) The bureau said all firms in the category collectively brought in $62 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis, down 1.9 percent from the $63.211 billion reported for the fourth quarter of 2012.

On a same quarter basis, the Census Bureau reported employment firms brought in $62.434 billion last year.

John has been writing about recruiting and employment for nearly a decade,and has worked in the field for almost twice as long. He traces his connection to the employment industry back to the beginning of the commercial Internet when he managed some of the earliest news oriented websites. These offered job boards, which became highly popular with users. John worked with agencies and large employers on job postings, resume search, and campaigns, before consulting with media companies on audience development and online advertising sales.