Big Profits for the U.S. Staffing Industry


Projected to be the fastest-growing industry in the nation, temporary staffing is almost as recession-proof as working for a morgue or the IRS.



Recent economic woes have left many workers in the U.S. scouting for job opportunities in recession-proof industries. While the staffing industry may not offer the same employment security as healthcare or government (staffing, after all, did not join death and taxes on Benjamin Franklin's list of worldly certainties), economic statistics indicate that staffing jobs are the next best thing to being a doctor or bureaucrat. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that by 2014, the employment services industry will have grown faster and added more jobs than any other industry.


Grand employment projections aside, the relative security of jobs in staffing is attributable to the already impressive growth in demand that has been displayed over the past several decades for the staffing industry's product, i.e. temporary jobs. According to the Government Accountability Office, from 1982 to 1998, the number of temp jobs in the U.S. increased by 577%, as compared to overall job growth of 41%. The American Staffing Association reports that in 2007, almost 3 million temporary and contract workers were employed on a daily basis by staffing firms; this number stood at about 2 million in 1996. A total of 11.4 million individual temporary/contract workers were employed during 2007.


Needless to say, this has meant big business for personnel firms. Staffing Industry Analysts, Inc. reported that in 2007, 119 public and private U.S. staffing companies had revenues of $100 million or more. The number of companies at that revenue level has increased by over 20% in just two years. All total, the U.S. staffing industry took in over $100 billion last year.


Not all of this industry growth has been in traditional temporary staffing. Corporate recruiter jobs have gained in importance as more companies look to outsource their human resource needs and more thoroughly vet their job applicants. This sector alone is estimated to be a $10 billion industry. Many temporary staffing companies specialize in areas such as information technology jobs or executive and management jobs. Though employment and revenue statistics are difficult to calculate, the virtual staffing industry is also growing as more companies use available technologies to support work at home or telecommuting jobs.


The career path for staffing, placement, and recruiting jobs is similar to that of corporate human resources jobs. A bachelor's degree in human resources, communications, labor relations, business administration, or even a subject like sociology would provide a suitable education for personnel jobs both within and without the staffing industry. Staffing professionals who grow weary of the industry's emphasis on filling temporary or part-time jobs may find their staffing experience useful in securing HR recruitment jobs or other administrative and training jobs in the corporate HR world.


--Joshua Avram

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