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Europe – Agency work numbers growing

03 March 2014

For the third consecutive month there has been positive growth in the number of hours worked by agency workers in Europe, according to the latest figures from the Agency Work Business Indicator from Eurociett (European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies).

The average number of hours worked by agency workers across Europe in December 2013 rose by +3.8% compared with last year, following the release of very positive figures from Poland, which accounted for almost half of the growth. Increases were also reported in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy. Of the countries able to report new data, only Switzerland experienced a further downturn. 

Revenue grew at a slightly higher rate, for the most part, than the number of hours worked, with growth accelerating in most countries. Again, Poland reported the most significant growth with +33.9%, while Norway is the only country reporting a slight decrease in revenue during Q4 2013. 

In Q4 2013, unemployment levels across the EU rose by +1.9%, a clear slow down compared to previous periods. This coincides with cautious growth in the number of hours worked by agency workers, which has reported positive growth for the third consecutive month.

The data continues to display an inverse relationship between unemployment levels in the EU and the amount of agency work being carried out. This implies that agency work is a leading indicator of employment. When agency work grows, employment levels will generally start improving within 3‐6 months. In other words, more hours worked by agency workers does not imply rising unemployment.

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