The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report signaled growth in the economy, with 169,000 jobs added and the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008. However, recent job headlines have shifted focus with many outlets reporting the increase in “part-time” work, partly due to the Affordable Care Act. While the increase in part-time work is typically focused the hospitality industry, it’s important to mention that there has also been an increase in temporary jobs overall. In fact, in skilled areas such as technology and finance and accounting, a temporary position doesn’t necessarily mean it is a part-time position.
Part-Time vs. Temporary. While some temporary roles may be part-time opportunities, in many cases, temporary professionals work the same amount of hours as a regular full-time employee. The main difference in those cases, however, is that temporary assignments can average anywhere from four months to more than a year, with some even spanning multiple years. Another misconception is that professionals in temporary roles do not receive benefits. The reality is that many staffing firms today offer temporary workers medical, dental and 401(k) benefits.
The Temporary Trend. In taking a closer look at the employment report, we see that the hiring rate of temporary workers is reportedly five times the rate of overall hiring. It’s no exception in South Florida, as our local Kforce office has seen the number of employers looking for temporary workers increase by roughly 80 percent since 2010. There are many causes for the increase in temporary workers, but most notably temporary staffing provides employers with the support they need for project efforts, allowing them to control costs, manage results, as well as help reduce the concern around potential economic and regulatory uncertainties.
In fact, Kforce’s South Florida office comes across many temporary-to-hire situations which allows employers to “try before they buy.” In this case, companies typically hire temporary employees for about six months before deciding whether or not to bring the person on full-time.
It’s also important to note that employers today are especially focused on filling temporary roles in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas. While headline unemployment figures sit just above seven percent now, the unemployment rate for college educated professionals in STEM areas continues to come in at almost half that rate – creating increased competition among employers to attract and retain these highly skilled workers.
What’s Next? The war for talent doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon with studies showing that STEM workers will not only remain in high demand, but grow scarcer by 2020. On a more positive note for staffing firms, 75 percent of economists surveyed by the Associated Press say the rise in temporary jobs represents a long-standing trend, furthering the notion that temporary work may be here to stay.