US Temp Jobs Jump by 34,000, Penetration Rate Matches High

Feb 05, 2016
December saw the US add 34,400 temp jobs and the temp penetration match a previous all-time high, according to seasonally adjusted data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of temp jobs rose 3.30% on a year-over-year basis in December, compared with 2.85% in November. The temp penetration rate — temp jobs as a percent of total nonfarm jobs — increased to 2.06% in December compared to 2.05% in November.

One note: Data in this report is frequently revised in later reports. Both October’s and November’s temporary jobs numbers were revised upward, and the decline in temp jobs from October to November was cut to 12,000 from the initially reported 12,300.

For total nonfarm employment, the US added 292,000 jobs in December.

Employment gains occurred in several industries, and the increase exceeded the highest forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The median forecast in the survey called for 200,000 advance.

The fourth-quarter acceleration in job growth, despite a slowdown in GDP, could mean that we have seen another quarter of very weak, perhaps negative, labor productivity growth, Gad Levanon, managing director, economic outlook and labor markets at The Conference Board said in a statement.

“The job performance was widespread but not because of holiday retail hiring,” he said. “However, job growth in transportation and warehousing was strong, signaling the accelerating shift to online shopping.”

The US unemployment rate was remained at 5.0% in December for the third consecutive month. The college-level unemployment rate, which can serve as a proxy for professional employment, was also unchanged month over month at 2.5%.

“As the labor markets get tighter, the downward trend in the unemployment rate is naturally becoming more moderate,” said Levanon. “The labor force participation rate increased for the third month in a row. Is this turning point for real this time? We remain cautious as this measure is quite noisy. Still, with such a strong momentum in employment growth, the unemployment rate is likely to continue dropping in 2016.”