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The staffing industry is among the first to notice changes in economic trends in Norway, according to dn.no. The decline in the number of hours billed has accelerated over the last three years and remains particularly strong in southern Norway. In contrast, the industry has reported growth in the three most northern countries.
Even Hagelien, Head of NHO Service, in an interview with dn.no, commented: “The introduction of the temporary agency work directive at New Year last year probably affected the numbers, somewhat, but we do realise that the most obvious explanation is the weaker economic conditions in Norway.”
At the end of 2013, the number of hours billed fell by -4.6%, with the fourth quarter reporting a -6.8% drop, compared with the same quarter in 2012.
“The most positive development in the fourth quarter was in technical services, with +11.3% growth. Healthcare increased by +9.4%. Of the major sectors there was a decrease of -14.4% in logistics and transport and construction reported a fall of over +10%,” Mr Hagelien added.
For the full year, the number of hours billed in both healthcare and childcare & education rose by about +20%. Retail experienced the biggest decline (-22%), followed by IT (-7.3%), and construction (-4.3%).
Regionally there were large variations between counties. Northern Norway reported by far the best year-on-year growth in the fourth quarter, and is also well above average for the year. Along the southern coast staffing was much weaker.
“Mr Hagelien continued: “Declines in Oslo and Akershus were -7.6% and -6.9%. Much stronger than we’ve seen in a long time. We are clearly moving into a period where customers are cutting down on their flexible workforce. That is often a clear signal that we have challenging times ahead.”
“The decline worsened though 2013, indicating that we are in a heavy trend. At best, 2014 will be a flat year for the industry. There is little to cheer about. But it is important to emphasise at the same time that we are not in a crisis. We compare last year with 2012, which was a very good year. After last year’s downturn, we are taken back to 2011 levels,” he explained.