BLS: Staffing Employment Remains Robust in January


Seasonally Up 3.4% From a Year Ago

Temporary help employment changed little (0.1%) from December 2017 to January 2018, but was 3.4% higher than in January 2017, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the past six months, year-to-year staffing job growth averaged 3.0% per month, higher than the average of 2.2% for all of 2017. The average for all of 2017 was revised down from 4.1% by BLS as a result of the annual benchmarking process.

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 falloff 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 declined 8.1% from December 2017 to January 2018. Year-to-year, there were 3.4% more staffing employees in January than in the same month last year.

“Businesses are feeling confident about the economy and report they are planning on increasing the size of their flexible and permanent workforces in the year ahead,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “However, a growing number say that as labor markets tighten, they are very concerned about not being able to attract and retain qualified talent.”

Total U.S. nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 jobs in January (seasonally adjusted), BLS reported. Incorporating revisions for November and December, job gains averaged 192,000 per month over the past three months, higher than the average of 181,000 for the prior 12 months.

The January unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1% for the fourth consecutive month.

BLS also released preliminary December 2017 employment data for search and placement services, which, seasonally adjusted, grew 0.9% from November. Search and placement jobs totaled 303,100 in December, 1.0% higher than in the same month last year.

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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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