BLS: Staffing Employment Robust in January


Up 3.3% From a Year Ago, Pace of Growth Returns to Trend

Temporary help employment edged up 0.5% from December 2016 to January 2017, and was 3.3% higher than in January 2016, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the past six months, year-to-year job growth has averaged 1.6% per month, compared with 1.4% over the prior 12 months.

Staffing employment typically peaks in November or December, drops substantially in January, and grows the rest of the year. BLS adjusts for this seasonality, which results in an increase in seasonally adjusted January job numbers and a dramatic fall-off in nonseasonally adjusted numbers. BLS also annually recalibrates its report in January and makes other revisions to the past five years of data.

Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that temporary help employment decreased 7.9% from December 2016 to January 2017. But there were 3.1% more staffing employees in January than in the same month last year.

“Staffing and recruiting firms are reporting increased client optimism about economic growth in 2017 across many sectors,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “However, the January jobs report also confirms that more growth is needed. The number of unemployed and underemployed workers was 9.4% in January, the highest level since October.”

Total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 jobs in January (seasonally adjusted), BLS reported. Incorporating revisions for November and December, job gains averaged 183,000 per month over the past three months, slightly less than the average of 187,000 for the prior 12 months.

The unemployment rate was 4.8% in January, up from 4.7% in December 2016.

BLS also released preliminary December 2016 employment data for search and placement services, which, seasonally adjusted, was little changed (0.2%) from November 2016. Search and placement jobs totaled 295,300 in December, 0.6% lower than in the same month last year.

For more information, visit the ASA newsroom. Interviews with ASA executives are available.

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About the American Staffing Association

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit

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