Briefing: May 16, 2013

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May 2013 Jobs Report Digest

Event
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. total nonfarm employment rose by 165,000 in April, and temporary help employment was up 31,000, increasing temp penetration by 3 basis points, to 1.97%.  Total employment gains in February and March were revised upwards by 64,000 and 50,000 jobs, respectively, making February the single largest monthly increase (+332,000) in total employment since May of 2010 (+521,000 jobs).  

Background and Analysis
In April, the sectors driving employment growth included leisure and hospitality (+43,000), professional services excluding temporary help (+42,000), temporary help (+31,000), retail trade (+29,000), and healthcare (+26,000); job losses occurred in the following sectors: government (-11,000), information (-9,000), and construction (-6,000). According to the BLS Household Survey, the unemployment rate declined to 7.5%.

The 31,000 temp jobs added in April, following job gains that were revised upwards by 4,000 and 5,000 in February and March, respectively, represent strong monthly growth in the sector.  On a year-over-year basis, employment in temporary help was up 7.4% in April, indicating acceleration over the growth rate of the past three months.  The temp penetration rate, which is the ratio of temp employees to total employees, was 1.97% in April, and edged closer to the all-time high level of 2.03% in April 2000.  The temp penetration rate is up 11 basis points over the past year, and if this rate of growth continued, the rate would hit a record high around October of this year.  According to the BLS Household Survey, the unemployment rate decreased from 7.6% to 7.5% in April despite a slight increase in the labor force, which was up 210,000 over the previous month.

Staffing Industry Analysts’ Perspective
April continued a recent trend of moderate growth in total nonfarm employment and strong growth in temporary help employment. The rising temp penetration rate is encouraging, as the industry is on a trajectory that could hit a new high-water mark in share of employment by the end of this year.  We maintain a positive outlook on total and temp employment growth, with more positive outlook for selected sectors of the economy, such as oil & gas, construction, and manufacturing.

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