Seasonally adjusted employment data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that staffing firms added 16,000 new jobs from January to February (up 0.6%). In a year-to-year comparison, temporary help employment for the month was 4.4% higher than in February 2012. Over the previous 12 months, the temporary help industry has added an average of 9,100 jobs per month to the economy.
Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that the staffing industry added 29,100 new jobs (up 1.2%) from January to February of this year. On a year-to-year basis, there were 4.7% more staffing employees in February than in the same month last year.
Overall U.S. nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 jobs in February. The job gains far exceeded many economists’ predictions that put payroll additions for February at around 175,000 new jobs.
“Staffing and recruiting firms continued to play an important role in February in helping job seekers find short-term, long-term, and permanent work,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “Although the jobs report was stronger than expected, businesses remain cautious about hiring with continued uncertainty about federal policy.”
Though the jobs report was much stronger than expected and unemployment has reached a four-year low, these figures do not yet reflect government spending cuts that will have an effect in the months ahead. Staffing services will continue to help businesses meet their talent needs as they face continued uncertainty about the effects of future budget cuts on the economy.
Employment growth was mostly driven by new job creation in professional and business services (+73,000), construction (+48,000), health care (+32,000), retail trade (+24,000), and information (+20,000). Employment in other major industries showed little change over the month.
The overall U.S. unemployment rate edged down from 7.9% in January to 7.7% in February.
BLS also provides employment estimates for search and placement firms, but those are nonseasonal only, and reports lag one month. Friday, BLS reported that search and placement employment in January was down 4.0% from December, totaling 266,300 jobs for the month. In a year-to-year comparison, January employment was up 4.7% from the same month in 2012.