Temps point way to better economy ahead

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Demand for temporary and contract staffing continued to increase steadily from November to December, according to the American Staffing Association’s Staffing Index.

The index began the monthly period, starting the week of Nov. 9, at a level of 85 and ended the five-week period 2 percent higher at its current value of 87.

The only diversion from the index’s upward trend took place during Thanksgiving week when temporary staffing rates dropped by 4.48 percent, pushing the index down to 82.

“This weekly period, Nov. 23–29 … and a decline in staffing employment of this magnitude is typical for a shortened work week,” the ASA said in its report.

Temporary help employment has increased 23 percent since the beginning of July and the average number of staffing jobs reported for the month of December is comparable to the number of industry jobs reported for the same five weeks in 2008.

The ASA Staffing Index baseline level was set at 100 for June 2006. The current level of 87 suggests that staffing employment is 13 percent lower than during June 2006.

ASA’s data, which corresponds with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment situation reports, shows that staffing employment is a “coincident” economic indicator and leading employment indicator, especially when the economy is emerging from a recession:

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