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U.S. Employment Situation (December 2014)
published by Bruce Steinberg | January 9, 2015

Home of the first and only U.S. employment report podcasts



The biggest threat to the staffing industry in a generation is here ...


Almost 22 years ago, Time magazine's had a cover story entitled "The Temping of America" that was critical of America's employers growing use of temporary workers. Some in the staffing industry saw it as an out-and-out assault on temporary help services, some saw the article as an opportunity to show how one onerous employer regulations had become for business and how temporary help services could help them, and others used it to demonstrate how temporary help services help workers provide jobs and provide opportunities.


In the interim period, the staffing industry has generally flourished (sans a recession or slowdown or two).


This week, The Economist magazine published a cover story entitled "Workers on tap" that every staffing executive should read and read carefully. It makes a strong case that technology "will reshape the nature of companies and the structure of careers."


Some will dismiss this threat for several reasons. 'That article is about freelancers, freelancers have been around for a long time and this doesn't apply to staffing companies since we are the employer.' In addition, many of the applications discussed in the story are in areas where staffing never operated in anyway and technology has actually opened up more opportunities for staffing services.


But think Uber. And if you don't know why we just said "think Uber," you're going to be waiting for a taxi that isn't going to come for you. Much of the technology discussed in the article is changing the on-demand labor market, which is a significant portion of the staffing industry, to such a degree that those changes could totally disenfranchise that major part of the staffing sector.


The Economist article is here and if that link is gone by the time you are reading this, try this one.


This development may not significantly affect large users of temporary help services since they fully understand the value of the employee / employer relationship protection from using a staffing services (and almost by definition, large staffing companies as well as VMS & RPO).


It's the small and medium sized staffing enterprises that will be most impacted. London may not be burning today, but the conditions are right for a firestorm that could change the face of the staffing industry -- and possibly other employment services including job boards -- in a very short time.


If you have any thoughts about this -- or other subjects you would like us to address this year -- let us know.



Strategic Planning Tools ...

Our Temporary Help Services Interactive Data Book tool will enable to view the local (down to the county level) temporary help services trends as well as benchmark your local staffing operation  to discover exactly where you are positioned in the market and if your offices are performing up to the local market.

Then use our Employment Tracking Tool that is designed to assist you in identifying and evaluating new sectors and markets. It examines the overall employment trends by industry in the given market to help determine possibly under-serviced industries to target marketing efforts (as well as what industries to avoid). By doing this, it shows what industries are growing and therefore are in expansion mode making them eager for a wide variety of products and services and likely in need of additional staff.

See further descriptions of these two strategic planning tools and links to the demos

What will 2022 look like for staffing services?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published 10-year employment projections. These projections are based upon a plethora of criteria including how changes in population demographics will affect the demand for specific goods and services, the types of jobs, and levels of education for workers to fill those jobs.  Our report highlights some of the changes in the direction that both jobs (occupations) and well as employment changes by industry and sector that may be of special interest to staffing industry executives planning for the near-term future.


You may be surprised to learn that it appears that light industrial will be a growing sector for staffing services encompassing growing portion of staffing services jobs by the year 2022; office and administrative support jobs, although they will remain a significant part of staffing services jobs, will decline slightly as its portion of the overall mix.


Our report on the expected employment projections to the year 2022, which is only eight years away, as they relate to staffing services to assist you in planning for the future. Given the highly analytical nature of our readers and followers, this brief, eight-page report is light on words but heavy on tables and charts. And because we know you are a busy executive, you don't even have to go to the additional step of requesting this gratis and valuable report from us. Just directly download it from here.


Looking for more? Check out our podcasts!

Podcasts of the current employment situation will be available by 4:00 p.m. ET, Thursday, July 3rd. The video podcast, which you can start and stop to study the tables and graphs as well as replay individual sections, includes additional data and information.  Watch the video version here or just listen to the audio version here (no special hardware or software required), which also can be downloaded to an iPod or any smartphone.

The "ultimate consultant's consultant."

"Bruce is an invaluable resource to me in working through the strategic planning process with my clients in the staffing industry. Bruce consults with me on each engagement and customizes his deliverables accordingly, exceeding my expectations each time. He expediently gathers and compiles the data I need and delivers it in user-friendly reports which make the analysis portion of my job easy. Because with Bruce's assistance I can make strategy recommendations with confidence and accuracy, my clients benefit greatly in turn. He is the ultimate "consultant's consultant." -- Amy Bingham, Bingham Consulting Professionals View more Testimonials


December 2014 Employment Report

Quick recap


The unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent to 5.6 percent in December, a level it has not seen since June 2008. A decline in the size of the labor force (recall all those discussions we've had regarding changing demographics?) is as much responsible for the decline in the unemployment rate as the increase in the number of employed persons and the decrease in the number of unemployed persons. For more detail, see the "Household Survey" section at the bottom of this column.


On the other side of the monthly employment picture, the total number of jobs was up a healthy 252,000 and the gains were fairly broad-based.  Last month, in November 2014, it was up 353,000 but a year ago, in December 2014, total nonfarm jobs grew by only 84,000. Although these data are subject to annual revisions that will be released with next month's employment report, this translates into an increase of 2,952,000 jobs in 2014.


Jobs Report


Total private-sector jobs grew by 240,000 in December that did not come close to November's gain of 345,000 (which was boosted by strong growth in Retail and related sectors) but much better than a year ago, in December 2013, when private-sector jobs increased by only 86,000.


The private Goods-producing sector grew by 67,000 jobs in December compared to growth of 51,000 in November, and clearly a big improvement from a year ago (December 2013) when it contracted by 13,000.

  • Building new jobs by the Construction sector picked up with growth of 48,000 compared to November's gain of only 20,000 and last year's (December 2013) decline of 20,000.

  • Manufacturers slowed with only 17,000 more jobs in December compared to November's growth of 29,000 but markedly better than the 7,000 they added a year earlier in December 2013.

  • Despite all the financial and media focus on the energy sector, hiring activity in Mining and logging that was steady adding 2,000 jobs each month in December, November as well as in October; in December 2013, job growth was flat.

The private Service-providing sector contributed 173,000 more jobs in December, which was clearly not as good as November's growth of 294,000 but an improvement from a year ago, December 2013, when it added only 99,000.

  • Clearly the timing in the Retail trade sector was different in 2014 with December's growth of only 7,700 after November's jump of 55,700;  a year ago, in December 2013, this sector added 52,000.

  • However, the pace at Wholesale trade picked up with the addition of 10,000 jobs after adding 5,300 in November; a year ago, in December 2013, it was up 11,000.

  • Growth in the Transportation and warehousing sector slowed in December with growth of only 3,100 compared to November's gain of 16,900; a year ago, in December 2013, growth was limited to 4,500 new jobs

  • Financial activities employers only added 10,000 jobs n December that was about half the 21,000 they added in November; a year ago, in December 2013, they added only 2,000.

  • The Professional and business services sector slowed its pace as well with 52,000 more jobs compared to a gain of 87,000 in November; however, a year ago, in November 2013, it added only 16,000. Computer systems design and related services added 9,000 jobs in December that was a bit better than the 7,700 it added in November.  Management and technical consulting services grew by only 3,200 jobs in December that was weaker than the 8,100 it added in November; Architectural and engineering services added 5,100 jobs in December that was a bit stronger than November's gain of 4,700.

  • The Education and health services sector added a total of 48,000 jobs in December with the sector's highly seasonal Educational services sub-sector increasing by 4,900. Therefore, growth in the Health care and social assistance portion was 43,700, which was slightly better than the 45,000 growth of November. Home health care services was up by 4,200 in December, which was weaker than the 7,400 gain of November.

  • New jobs in the Leisure and hospitality sector increased 36,000 in December after adding 53,000 jobs in November, but double the 18,000 it added in December 2013.

The total number of Government jobs was up by 12,000. The federal government increased 1,000 jobs; State government added 7,000 jobs; and Local government expanded by 4,000 jobs.

Temporary Help Services Roundup


Although 2014 job numbers won't be finalized until next month's jobs data release, we are comfortable with using the preliminary data released this month to report annual results.  In 2014, temporary help services growth accelerated with a 8.7 percent increase from the prior year to 2,886,900. In 2013, temporary help services grew by 6.4 percent.


(if the charts are unclear, click on them to open in a browser window)

Click on chart to open in a new browser window.


For a chart of temporary help's growth from January 1991 to December 2014 and comparing its trend to total employment, click here.


In December, temporary help services continued to reach new highs. It was up 14,700 to 2,990,400, which was 0.5 percent sequential growth and year-on-year growth of 7.8 percent. It's now less than 10,000 away from breaching 3,000,000 jobs.


In November, THS was up 23,900 jobs with sequential growth of 0.8 percent and year-on-year growth of 8.5 percent.  


Temporary help service's market share -- that is its portion of all jobs -- continued to increase and also reached an all-time high of 2.13 percent in December; in November it was 2.12 percent and was 2.02 percent in December 2013.


Click on chart to open in a new browser window.

Household Survey


December's 5.6 percent unemployment rate was 0.2 percent lower than November's figure -- it's at the lowest it has been since June 2008. In December 2013, was 6.7 percent.


That 5.6 percent unemployment rate was the result of a labor force that contracted by 273,000  while there were only 111,000 more employed persons and the number of unemployed persons declined by 383,000. And the number not in the labor force grew by 459,000. In other words, the size of the labor force shrank while more people found jobs in December, even more were no longer considered as unemployed and those not in the labor force expanded.


The employment-to-population ratio was unchanged at 59.2 percent in December and up from 58.6 percent a year earlier. The labor force participation rate declined to 62.7 percent from November's 62.9 percent and incrementally lower from a year ago, in December 2013, when it was 62.8. The number of discouraged workers continued to decline with only 740,000 of them compared to 917,000 a year earlier in December 2013.


BTW, we maintain an updated table of many major employment as well as other economic indicators here or here for the mobile version.


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