Staffing Employment Down in Second Quarter Straying From Seasonal Growth Trend

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US staffing employment was an average of 2.6 million temporary and contract workers per week in the second quarter, down 2.8% from the first quarter, a decrease of about 74,600 jobs, according to data released today by the American Staffing Association. Temporary and contract staffing sales rose 3.8%.

The gap between quarter-to-quarter sales growth and a contraction in staffing employment is more than six percentage points—significantly higher than the average of two percentage points since ASA began tracking quarterly metrics in 1992. Notable differences between changes in staffing sales and employment typically occur during times of economic uncertainty.

Temporary and contract staffing employment rose 27.3% in the second quarter of 2021 from the same period in 2020—when staffing jobs suffered a historic loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Staffing sales totaled $35.0 billion in the second quarter, a 35.3% increase year-to-year.

“One of the biggest challenges facing employers as the U.S. continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic is finding enough workers to meet demand,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “It’s time to think outside the box about new opportunities to provide workers with greater degrees of flexibility and new ways to support employee growth and career development.”

Staffing companies are optimistic about the next few months, expecting their third-quarter revenue to grow 21% year-to-year and projecting an expansion of 20% for the full year of 2021 compared with 2020.

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