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Temporary Jobs Forecast: 2009-2010

Temporary Jobs Forecast: 2009-2010

John Rossheim | Monster Senior Contributing Writer

As usual, contingent hiring is expected to be a bellwether for the broader labor economy. “We expect to see improvement for temporary workers before we see it anywhere else,” says Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “But that’s not happening yet. We’re still seeing declines in temp help services, though they’re much smaller declines.”

As the economy sputters toward recovery, employers by the thousands are hesitating to hire even contingent workers, and legions of temporary employment agencies are fighting for life. In this environment, workers who aspire to land temporary jobs need to be savvy about their job search — and prepared to elbow out millions of laid-off Americans desperate for a paycheck.

On the rollercoaster ride of temporary employment, this historic recession has been a high-speed plunge. Yet if the economy has found a bottom, temping could make a substantial — if gradual — recovery as companies continue to hedge their staffing bets.

The Recession: Tough Times for Temporary Employment

Here’s how tough things have been for temps: The number of workers on temporary assignments dropped a staggering half-million over the past year to 1.74 million in September 2009 from 2.26 million a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, some in the industry are hopeful about the future. “The temp market is showing major signs of recovery just in the last two weeks,” says Maureen Mackey, a principal of staffing firm Mackey & Guasco Associates in Darien, Connecticut. Of late, her phones have been ringing with orders from financial companies who are betting on a recovery in their own fortunes.

The upshot for those seeking temporary work assignments? Assess which industries are leading a recovery in your region and position yourself as a top candidate by acquiring industry-specific skills.

Financial Challenges for the Staffing Industry?

Temps also need to understand the financial stress their staffing agencies may be suffering.

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