In the fall of 2011, the US economy had corporations acting like a significant other who isn’t ready to commit. Instead of marrying themselves to permanent employees, companies are hedging their economic bets by creating temporary jobs and hiring more project-based workers.
On a year-over-year basis, 7.8 percent more temporary workers were employed in September 2011 compared with the same month last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That trend has temporary employment agencies predicting that hiring for temp jobs and seasonal jobs will increase in late 2011 and into 2012.
Hottest Cities for Temp Jobs
Temporary jobs are particularly plentiful in the Southwest — especially Texas — as well as the Northeast, says Jorge Perez, senior vice president of Manpower North America in Milwaukee.
“Texas is a good market and the Northeast has been quite strong,” he says. “The region that is the weakest as of now is the Midwest because you have more dependency there on the industrial sector. The Southwest is good and the West Coast is somewhere between.”
Demand for temps also varies by industry, says Jodi Chavez, West Coast senior vice president for Ajilon Professional Staffing in Melville, New York. Her temp agency is seeing a boost in light industrial and professional services temp jobs in Texas and increased demand for temp accounting and finance professionals in San Francisco; Washington, DC; Chicago and New York City.
Detroit has been a tough job market in recent years, but Randstad USA, a division of Randstad Holding NV, one of the world’s largest temp employment agencies, is seeing temp jobs come back in that market, too, says Joanie Ruge, the company’s chief employment analyst.
Temporary agencies are also finding demand for their services is high in areas where unemployment is low, like Nebraska, New Hampshire and Texas. In California and in the Texas cities of Dallas, Austin and Houston, companies are seeking healthcare, IT, engineering and manufacturing temps, Ruge says.
“There are opportunities out there,” she says. “Of course, they vary depending on where you are and your skill set.”
Temp Jobs Pay Increase
With demand building, particularly for skilled employees, pay increases can’t be far behind, temp agency officials say. “What we’re hearing from companies is that they’re lacking a little confidence in their hiring,” Chavez says. “But if an economic plan emerges from Washington, DC, for a stimulus or tax incentives, then we’ll see a competitive job market where companies will have to raise [temp] wages and get creative in recruiting.”
A mismatch between the skills needed by companies and the skills possessed by job seekers is frustrating temp employment agencies. “The talent mismatch is very evident,” says Perez. Despite the high unemployment rate, Perez reports having a hard time nationally finding computer numeric machinists, truck drivers, healthcare technicians, IT professionals, engineers and sales professionals.
“It sounds crazy with the unemployment rates we have, but we don’t have enough talent to go around,” he says.
Still mired in the recession, companies are hiring more middle-management and even executive-level workers for temporary jobs, especially project roles, Ruge adds. “We’re seeing those temporary jobs in accounting, finance, IT, engineering and healthcare.”
Administrative temps will find there’s less competition for jobs in 2012 because more than 100,000 admin workers found employment between September 2010 and September 2011. Executive assistants can earn $18 to $30 an hour; the highest rates go to temps in high-cost markets who have experience supporting CEOs and other company leaders, Chavez says.
Multilingual temps are also in demand, Chavez says. Global corporations headquartered in China, Japan and Latin America have temp jobs in their US offices for bilingual workers who speak English plus Chinese, Japanese or Spanish.
Seasonal jobs, which follow trends in seasonal sales, are likely to hold steady this year. The National Retail Federation predicts retailers will hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, about the same as last year.
While most retailers offer seasonal jobs in anticipation of an uptick in traffic and sales during November and December, retailers have also been hiring throughout the last year: Since August 2010, the retail industry has added nearly 100,000 jobs.
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