Seasonally adjusted employment data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that temporary help employment added 8,100 new jobs in January (up 0.3% from December). In a year-to-year comparison, staffing firms employed 9.0% more temporary workers in January than in the same month a year ago, according to BLS.
Staffing employment typically peaks in November or December, drops substantially in January, and grows the rest of the year. BLS adjusts for this seasonality, which results in an increase in seasonally adjusted January job numbers while nonseasonally adjusted numbers usually show a dramatic fall off. BLS also annually recalibrates its report in January, and makes other revisions to the past five years of data.
Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that staffing employment declined by 191,500 in January (down 6.7% from December, but better than January’s historical average decline of 7.7%). On a year-to-year basis, there were 10.5% more staffing employees in January than in the same month last year.
“Businesses continue to be very cautious and strategic about increasing the size of their permanent and flexible workforces,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “Staffing and recruiting firms report that demand for talent across most sectors continues to improve slowly.”
Total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment increased by 113,000 jobs in January, BLS reported. Monthly job gains averaged 194,000 in 2013. The unemployment rate declined from 6.7% to 6.6% in January.
BLS also released preliminary December employment data for search and placement services: seasonally adjusted at 300,500, an increase of 500 from November.