Labor Forecast Predicts 3.7% Increase in Demand for Temporary Workers for 2017 Fourth Quarter

Industry Consulting Firm G. Palmer & Associates’ Quarterly Forecast Assists in Previewing Near-Term Hiring Patterns

Laguna beach, California, UNITED STATES

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Oct. 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Demand for temporary workers in the United States is expected to increase 3.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the 2017 fourth quarter, when compared with the same period in 2016, according to the Palmer Forecast™, released today.

The Palmer Forecast™ indicated a 4.1% increase in temporary help for the just ended 2017 third quarter. Actual results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) came in at 4.3%, with 5,900 net new temp help jobs added in September, and 92,000 added year-to-date. In addition, July and August numbers were revised up by 10,200.

“The 2017 third quarter marked the 31st consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases in demand for temporary workers, and our forecast for the fourth quarter predicts continued growth,” said Greg Palmer, founder and managing director of G. Palmer & Associates, an Orange County, California-based human capital advisory firm that specializes in workforce solutions. “The data show that temp help as a percentage of new job growth remained constant in Q3, while wages were up nearly 2.9% versus 2.7% in August.”

According to the BLS, 32,000 temp jobs were added in 2016, an average of 2,600 per month, versus 97,000 temporary jobs in 2015, an average of 8,000 per month. In 2014, the agency reported a total of 162,000 new temp jobs, preceded by 139,000 added temp jobs in 2013, and 142,000 temp jobs in 2012.

The Labor Department also reported a net loss of 33,000 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs in September 2017, which was below consensus expectations, mainly due to the hurricanes in Florida and Texas. The trailing three-month average of additional non-farm jobs fell to 91,000, and the 12-month average declined to 148,000, also due to the effects of the hurricanes.

The key job categories of growth and decline are as follows:

  • Non-farm jobs: -33,000
  • Private sector: -40,000 (-111,000 in leisure and hospitality due to hurricanes)
  • Government sector: +7,000
  • Service providing employment: -49,000
  • Professional and business services: +35,000
  • Healthcare and education: +27,000
  • Healthcare +27,000
  • Good Producing: +9,000
  • Construction: +8,000
  • Manufacturing: -1,000

U.S. employment trends are underpinned by near all-time lows in the labor participation rate. In September 2017, the participation rate ticked up slightly to 63.1% but remained near all-time lows. The U3 unemployment rate, generally reported as the official unemployment rate, ticked up 20bps from 4.0% in August to 4.2% in September. As reported by the BLS, the rate of unemployment for workers with college degrees was down 10bps to 2.3% from August, and the unemployment rate for workers with less than a high school education increased 50bps to 6.5%. The U6 unemployment rate, which tracks those who are unemployed, as well as those who are underemployed and are working part-time for economic reasons, decreased 30bps to 8.3% from August. The U6 rate is considered the rate that most broadly depicts those most affected by the downturn, and measures the rate of discouraged workers.

“One of the most revealing indicators to watch is the temp help penetration rate, which is significant because it measures temp help as a percentage of total employment. In June 2017, the penetration rate hit new highs at 2.1% of the total labor market versus a low of 1.3% in June 2009,” Palmer said.

The next few quarters…
The momentum in the temp help employment market continues to be positive due to GDP growth and sentiment around the anticipation of lower corporate tax rates and less government regulation. With GDP forecasts in Q4 expected in the 2.5% range, growth is expected to continue for the remainder of 2017, exemplified by the recent unexpected pick-up in temp help growth rates; September at 3.7%, and July and August at just above 4.0%.

However, employers still are reporting difficulty in filling vacancies, with nearly 6 million jobs remaining unfilled monthly. The key skill areas most severely impacted are those in health care, information technology, skilled trades and those positions that require high degrees of math and science. As of Q3 2017, the 10 most difficult positions to fill as reported by the American Staffing Association include:

  1. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  2. Audiologists
  3. Podiatrists
  4. Psychiatrists
  5. Internists, General
  6. Obstetricians and gynecologists
  7. Computer and Information Research Scientists
  8. Nurse Practitioners
  9. Occupational therapists
  10. Physical Therapists

Healthcare continues to dominate the list with eight of the 10 most difficult-to-fill occupations falling within that sector. The rankings are based on CareerBuilder and Emsi data.

About the Palmer Forecast™
The Palmer Forecast™ is based, in part, on BLS and other key indicators. The model was initially developed by the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University and serves as an indicator of economic activity. Companies that employ temporary staff use the forecast as a guide to navigate through fluctuating economic conditions in managing their workforce to meet business demands.

About G. Palmer & Associates
G. Palmer & Associates, founded in 2006, provides advisory services in the human capital sector. Founder Greg Palmer has served on the board of the American Staffing Association and was president and chief executive officer of RemedyTemp, Inc., one of the nation’s largest temporary staffing companies, prior to its sale in June 2006. For more information, visit


Roger S. Pondel/Judy Lin Sfetcu
PondelWilkinson Inc.

Philip Boronow, Analyst
G. Palmer & Associates