Direct hire -- down, but not out

We're currently updating our list of largest direct hire staffing companies--the first such update to this list since 2006. Some would say, what's the point? There hasn't been much to write home about in terms of growth in this segment lately. And who wants to talk about revenue when business is down?

Indeed, the direct hire segment has historically been among the most sensitive to economy, so it comes as no surprise that it was down 57% y/y in the first half of 2009, according to our Staffing Industry Benchmarking Consortium. Likewise, publicly traded staffing firms offering direct hire services continued to report huge declines in the second quarter and most of them were not optimistic about the third quarter either. 

I have two answers to all this despair. The first is that this segment is highly cyclical and is bound to bounce back once the economy picks up again. Let's not forget that when times were good, direct hire firms were raking in 35% y/y growth in 2005 and 2006. And my second answer is...that bounce back may already have begun. Preliminary data from the September results of the Staffing Industry Monthly Pulse Survey show some sequential improvement in direct hire, the first such sign of hope for this sector that we have seen in a long time.

With that in mind, I know that once hiring takes off again, buyers of staffing services will be clamoring to know which staffing companies can help them with hiring both contract and fulltime employees. And we'll be ready with the competitive landscape for them.

So, if you generated at least $25 million in direct hire revenue in the U.S. in 2008, and if you have not provided us this information already in the survey that we sent out at the start of the year, please, don't hesitate to come forward now. Just fire off a quick e-mail to me at ssharma@staffingindustry.com and I will take care of the rest.

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