T emporary Help Services Continues Climb Toward 3 Million Employees

May Job Report is Unusually Well Behaved

The BLS Employment Situation report showed 217,000 net new jobs, in line with expectations. This level of job growth harmonized nicely with existing population and market trends, as illustrated by the lack of movement in many of the major statistical measures:

Long-Term Unemployed
Adults Participating in the Workforce
Length of Work Week
Revisions to Prior Months

Unchanged at 6.3%
Unchanged at 3.4 million
Unchanged at 62.8%
Unchanged at 34.5 hours

While the demand for jobs and job creation appeared to be in balance in May, some job sectors fared better than others. Temporary Help Services, once again notable for its strength, is a component of Professional & Business Services.


Temp Employment Sets Record for Eleventh Consecutive Month

While temporary agency employment is only a part of overall contingent labor picture, it is a good bellwether of that segment of the labor market. It continues to grow, both in absolute terms and in prominence as component of the larger workforce. We should expect to surpass the 3 million mark in temp labor employment before the end of the year.

The May revisions to temporary labor employment estimates for April and March were both slightly downward. These changes, however, did not interrupt the string of record months for temp job creation. The smart money is on June to set yet another new high, taking the consecutive record setting months to a full year.


The job report in May was well behaved: predictable, consistent and mildly encouraging. After the poor showing during the depths of the past winter, it is nice to see the labor market performing well, if unexceptionally. As it has since the start of the job creation recovery, temporary agency employment continues to stand out for its strength. A component of the broader trend toward business reliance on contingent labor, this trend is likely to continue through 2014.

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