More than half of the US jobs added in December were temporary

Temping agencies are getting a lot of work.
Temping agencies are getting a lot of work.
Image: AP Photo/Ric Francis
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Temping is a growing part of the US economy as more employers are hiring more temporary staff, even in a slow growth month like December.

A record share of the US economy, 2.06% of all US nonagricultural jobs, is now made up of temporary jobs, topping  the previous peak, 2.03%, set in April 2000, according to the American Staffing Association.  (The numbers are based on the government report showing the US jobless rate at 6.7%.)

Some 2.816 million people held temporary jobs in December, which is more than the number of workers in the US in real estate or information/media sectors.

US temporary jobs grew 9.6% last year, about six times as fast as the 1.6% overall employment growth. And in December, more than half—40,000— of the 74,000 US jobs added were new temporary jobs.

That 40,000 figure is “unusually high” and is likely to be revised lower, which could affect the record ratio, said Steve Berchem, chief operating officer of the American Staffing Association. The temporary staffing industry has been growing since the recession ended in July 2009, mostly because “businesses are looking for ways to maximize their workforce flexibility,” he told Quartz.

Temporary jobs often do not bring paid vacations or health insurance coverage, so they are less costly to employers. Even though a temp job may last only three weeks, the government counts them among the employed while receiving the paycheck.