U.S. demand for temp workers remains strong

* Payrolls data shows 19 pct growth in November

* Uncertainty over economy plays into temp hiring

By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK, Dec 3 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S, economy added the
highest number of temporary jobs last month since January,
suggesting U.S. employers remain concerned about the pace of
the U.S. recovery and are reluctant to step up permanent
hiring.

A much weaker-than-expected November jobs report on Friday
raised new questions about whether the fragile recovery was
running out of steam, as it contrasted with recent signs of a
stronger manufacturing sector and returning consumer demand.

Concrete evidence remains elusive that temp jobs —
traditionally a leading indicator of full-time, or “perm”
hiring — will soon translate into robust jobs growth.

U.S. temporary payrolls were up 19 percent in November, a
slower year-over-year increase than in the previous four
months, but the 39,500 temp jobs added last month marked the
highest number of new temp jobs since January.

Overall, temporary help payrolls are up by almost half a
million since they bottomed in September 2009, according to the
Department of Labor.

The percentage of temps in the U.S. workforce has jumped
since the recession ended last year and now totals 2.2 million
positions. Industry executives expect that so-called
penetration rate to surpass its prior peak of 2 percent.

“This ‘uncertain’ environment may be a godsend for
temporary staffing companies,” said BMO Capital Markets analyst
Jeff Silber in a research note.

“Temp growth continues to be strong,” said Tig Gilliam, who
heads North American operations for Swiss-based Adecco SA
(ADEN.VX: ), the world’s biggest staffing firm. He said
year-over-year growth is inevitably slowing since the recovery
in temp jobs is now well into its second year.

Employers remain concerned about whether recovery can be
sustained, Gilliam said. “It’s not that perm isn’t recovering.
It’s just a pretty anemic pace at this point.”

Nonfarm payrolls rose by only 39,000 last month, with
private hiring gaining only 50,000, both well below the job
gains economists had forecast. The jobless rate jumped to a
seven-month high of 9.8 percent. [ID:nN02238002]

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Unemployment rate graphic: http://r.reuters.com/mep48q

Breaking views column, click on: [ID:nN03102321]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

“MODERATE EXPANSION”

Shares of U.S.-listed staffing companies were mixed in
afternoon trading, after opening lower. The biggest, Manpower
Inc (MAN.N: ), was up 1 percent to $59.43. Hudson Highland
(HHGP.O: ) also rose, while SFN (SFN.N: ) and TrueBlue Inc (TBI.N: )
were slightly lower.

Roy Krause, the chief executive of SFN Group, said client
demand for temps was gradually shifting from early-cycle
categories like industrial workers to more white-collar areas
like technology.

“I don’t see any acceleration but I do see continued
moderate expansion,” Krause said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty
in the market that plays to the temporary side of the
business.”

Demand for white-collar temps may be coming at the expense
of full-time jobs, however. The unemployment rate among
college-educated workers, while still lower that the overall
national average, rose to 5.1 percent last month, from 4.7
percent.

U.S. employers are less likely to hire professional-level
staff over the coming quarter than they were three months ago,
even as more express optimism about business prospects,
according to a survey by specialized staffing company Robert
Half International Inc (RHI.N: ).

Of the 4,000 executives surveyed about first-quarter hiring
projections, 10 percent said they would increase staff levels,
down 1 point from the previous quarterly survey. Five percent
will cut staff, unchanged from the prior survey.

Robert Half’s survey found the best hiring prospects in
professional services firms, especially law firms that cut
staff too deeply during the downturn. Job prospects have
worsened in finance, insurance and real estate, by contrast.
(Reporting by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

U.S. demand for temp workers remains strong