Employment Trends – August 2012

Seasonally adjusted employment data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on September 7th suggests a weakening jobs picture and a softening in the staffing market. Job growth slowed, with the economy adding 96,000 jobs in August. This number is significantly less than the 120,000 forecasted by economists and considerably lower than the 141,000 added in July. While the unemployment rate dipped slightly from 8.3% in July to 8.1% in August, the Labor Force Participation Rate, as reported by the BLS, was the lowest since September 1981. Neal Lipschutz of the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog reported that the participation rate for men was the lowest on record.

Staffing jobs were down 0.2% between July and August, with 4,900 fewer staffing jobs month-over-month. Year-over-year temporary employment remains stronger, 8.9% higher in August 2012 than in August of 2011. In response to the jobs report, the American Staffing Association’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Richard Wahlquist said “Staffing and recruiting firms generally continued to report moderate growth as we moved into September. However, clients continue to be extremely cautious about adding personnel.” In their September Staffing Industry Report the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) reported a general pattern of deceleration in staffing, including the Industrial and Office/Clerical segments. As a result, SIA has revised down their U.S. temporary staffing forecast for 2012 and 2013 from 10% to 9% for 2012 and from 7% to 6% in 2013. SIA’s 2013 forecast assumes 2.0% GDP growth for 2013.