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Staffing Employment Edges Down in Second Quarter


Strays From Seasonal Growth Trend

U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.6 million temporary and contract workers per week in the second quarter of 2021, according to data released today by the American Staffing Association—down about 74,600 from the first quarter.

Staffing employment and sales typically rise in the second quarter following the first quarter seasonal dip. This quarter deviated from the trend, with staffing jobs declining by 2.8% quarter-to-quarter, while temporary and contract staffing sales grew 3.8%.

The gap between quarter-to-quarter sales growth and a contraction in staffing employment is more than six percentage points—significantly higher than the average of two percentage points since ASA began tracking quarterly metrics in 1992. Notable differences between changes in staffing sales and employment typically occur during times of economic uncertainty.

Temporary and contract staffing employment rose 27.3% in the second quarter of 2021 from the same period in 2020—when staffing jobs suffered a historic loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Staffing sales totaled $35.0 billion in the second quarter, a 35.3% increase year-to-year.

“One of the biggest challenges facing employers as the U.S. continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic is finding enough workers to meet demand,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “It’s time to think outside the box about new opportunities to provide workers with greater degrees of flexibility and new ways to support employee growth and career development.”

Staffing companies are optimistic about the next few months, expecting their third-quarter revenue to grow 21% year-to-year and projecting an expansion of 20% for the full year of 2021 compared with 2020.

To learn more about the quarterly ASA Staffing Employment and Sales Survey, visit, or follow ASA research on Twitter.

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About the American Staffing Association (ASA)

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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