April 20, 2014

Temp Trends

Slow Recovery

Florida-based general staffing firms are lagging the national trend

| 9/1/2010
In the nine months ended June, 379,000 temp jobs have been created nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "The sharpest increase in temp jobs on record," says analyst Tobey Sommer of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. After the 1991 recession, it took 29 months to generate that many. After the 2001 recession, it took 42 months. One view of the full-throttle growth holds that because temp hiring has been a leading indicator historically, the nation is in for a fast recovery from the 8.5 million jobs lost in the recession. The other view: Employers are so skittish about the economy, about the costs of new federal regulation and the federal healthcare law that rather than make permanent hires, they're sticking to temps.

Ann Machado, owner of Creative Staffing
"We're up over last year — we're up 40% — but last year was the worst year of my life," says Ann Machado, owner of Creative Staffing.

In any case, Florida hasn't joined the soaring national temp trend. Fort Lauderdale-based SFN Group is seeing demand nationally that parallels the industry's recovery, but "it's kind of a mixed bag in Florida," says Executive Vice President and COO William Grubbs. Light industrial and clerical hiring have improved, but technology, finance and accounting have been uneven, he says. Grubbs adds that the rebound SFN sees is coming from its large customers, not midsized and smaller businesses.

That might explain why other Florida staffing firms, which often deal with more local companies, report a difficult market. "Very, very slow and very, very tough," says Ann Machado, owner of Miami-based Creative Staffing. "We're up over last year — we're up 40% — but last year was the worst year of my life."

Angie Tekin, Jacksonville regional director for the Florida Staffing Association and a professional sales consultant with Oasis Staffing in Jacksonville, reports "signs of life coming back," but "it's still a very slow market. Our phones are ringing. It's mostly applicants." The Orlando area seems better. Henry Graeber, owner of Pro Image Solutions in Orlando and Longwood, sees hiring of temps increasing but "it's not leaps and bounds." Tekin's take is that employers have rosters of laid-off workers they want to hire first, while other employers want to add staff only on a contract or contingency basis. Employers are "so freaked out about the emotional and monetary cost of laying people off. When you go on a diet and lose a lot of weight, you have different eating habits going forward. It's going to be very different," Tekin says.

All told, the staffing industry employed 95,703 in Florida as temps and at temp firms in December, the most recent month available, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Tags: Healthcare

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