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Temp Employment Is Dominating Job Growth In The Largest Cities

June 21, 2013 by Joshua Wright

Temp_2Earlier this week, we wrote about the fastest-growing employment sector in the U.S. — support activities for metal mining. But the industry that’s added the most total jobs since the recession is temporary help services, a low-paying sector that EMSI estimates has 765,000 more jobs in 2013 than it did at the start of 2009.

The hiring surge in temp help accounts for 15% of all job growth nationally the last four years (not including self-employment), even though the industry makes up 2% of the nation’s workforce. And in some metropolitan areas, the share of job growth that can be credited to the temp sector is much, much higher: 65% in Cincinnati, 51% in Milwaukee, 46% in Kansas City. Even in bigger metros, like Chicago and Philadelphia, the temp sector accounts for more than 40% of new jobs since 2009.

Is it a good thing that job growth in dozens of large cities has been dominated by temp help? The quick answer: probably not. Especially since few of these new temp jobs are turning into full-time employment offers.

Consider this exchange between The Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Weber and ManpowerGroup CEO Jeffrey Joerres:

WSJ: Companies typically staff up with temps during a recovery and convert them to permanent workers as conditions improve. Are you seeing that pattern now?

Mr. Joerres: In good times, 60% to 70% of our people will receive a full-time offer while on assignment. Right now, it’s around 30%, and the tepid economy is driving that. Permanent recruitment is up about 10% on a year-over-year basis in the U.S.

Manpower, an EMSI client, is one of the world’s largest staffing firms. Every day, as the WSJ pointed out, it sends out more than 600,000 temp workers to businesses in all sorts of sectors (up from 450,000 two years ago). And Joerres says only 30% of these workers are getting full-time offers during their temporary gigs. That’s hardly an encouraging sign when you consider the low wages for workers in temporary settings ($33,327 on average annually in the U.S.) and the fact that many firms are still hesitant — or “scared,” as CNN put it in a headline — to add permanent hires.

But here’s perhaps the most important takeaway from our quick research: The best-performing metros since the recession (e.g., Houston, Washington, D.C., San Jose) have the lowest share of new jobs coming from temp help services.

To see where in the U.S. the temp hiring boom has most consumed job growth, we checked the employment picture for the 100 most populous metros using EMSI’s 2013.2 dataset. Only four metros saw temp workforce declines from 2009-2013 (Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, New Orleans, Youngstown, and Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville). And most others saw enormous temp gains — particularly compared to all other industries.

But here’s perhaps the most important takeaway from our quick research: The best-performing metros since the recession (e.g., Houston, Washington, D.C., San Jose) have the lowest share of new jobs coming from temp help services.

Mapping Total Gains

The following map, from EMSI’s mapping tool, shows total temp gains and losses for the largest 100 metros.

Note: EMSI’s 2013 employment numbers are annual average estimates based on historic and projected data from state and federal sources, such as the BLS’ Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).


Chicago has added the most temp jobs since 2009 (an estimated 45,444), and Knoxville, Tenn., has grown at the quickest rate of the top 100 MSAs (137%, or 4,280 new jobs). But Stockton, Calif., is No. 1 in terms of temp job growth dwarfing total job change: the Central Valley metro has added 1,604 jobs in temp help, and just 40 jobs total. That means if we subtracted its temp help gains, Stockton would still have fewer jobs than it did in 2009 — 1,564 fewer (a 1% decrease instead holding steady).

Three other metros are in the same situation as Stockton: Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (where temp help growth is 212% of total job change), Dayton (117% of total change), and Memphis (116%).


Meanwhile, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla., has added 508 jobs since 2009, and 500 of them have been in temp help (98% of job growth). Here are other metros at the top of the list (the full table is below):

  • Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. — 66% of new jobs in temp help
  • Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind. — 65%
  • Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, S.C. — 64%
  • Lancaster, Pa. — 60%
  • Greensboro-High Point, N.C. — 59%
  • Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. — 58%
  • North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla. — 55%

Metros On The Rebound

On the flip side, the metros that have bounced back quickest from the recession have the smallest shares of new growth coming from temp help services. This includes Houston (8% of total job growth), San Jose (8%), Salt Lake City (6%), Austin (5%), and especially Washington, D.C. (2%). The temp help sector has grown by 11% in D.C. (2,701 new jobs), but the total D.C. economy has added 117,238 jobs.

Here’s the full list of metros. The top performers are at the bottom since we’ve ranked the metros by the highest share of new jobs in temp help.

Metro2009 Temp Help Jobs2013 Temp Help JobsTemp Help Job Growth% ChangeTotal Job Change (2009-2013)Share of New Jobs in Temp Help2013 Avg. Earnings Per Temp Job
Stockton, CA3,3664,9701,60448%404010%$27,714
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA4,1675,4771,31031%617212%$21,456
Dayton, OH4,8506,8992,04942%1,751117%$25,724
Memphis, TN-MS-AR20,16227,6547,49237%6,474116%$22,777
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL3,3653,86550015%50898%$26,291
Birmingham-Hoover, AL5,8688,5532,68546%4,06366%$29,060
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN15,34621,1505,80438%8,94665%$26,439
Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, SC10,62618,4537,82774%12,16064%$29,675
Lancaster, PA2,7414,1041,36350%2,25360%$25,748
Greensboro-High Point, NC7,31510,5363,22144%5,47359%$26,786
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT6,2538,8302,57741%4,44558%$34,889
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL1,3732,4171,04476%1,90555%$25,984
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI15,35721,7076,35041%12,41151%$26,755
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA6,7878,2191,43221%2,93449%$29,546
Kansas City, MO-KS13,07518,9465,87145%12,75546%$25,893
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH13,31318,6225,30940%11,97244%$27,959
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD37,33245,5068,17422%19,75241%$37,281
New Haven-Milford, CT4,3896,9772,58859%6,50140%$28,918
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI86,818132,26245,44452%114,53540%$28,355
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY1,4221,63921715%57038%$33,815
Columbia, SC4,1627,1242,96271%7,82038%$28,422
Tucson, AZ2,8053,9751,17042%3,18437%$22,161
Knoxville, TN3,1237,4034,280137%13,08733%$32,735
Rochester, NY7,4129,4402,02827%6,63831%$32,809
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC10,84812,0561,20811%3,95631%$34,975
Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA8,68411,2212,53729%8,70829%$29,517
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT3,6355,7402,10558%7,27229%$50,350
Jacksonville, FL9,40615,3395,93363%21,34928%$29,560
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI9,56719,70410,137106%37,63027%$20,962
Jackson, MS2,5224,1341,61264%6,02327%$25,055
Madison, WI3,0545,8562,80292%10,83126%$29,697
St. Louis, MO-IL12,89816,9304,03231%16,19725%$31,089
Indianapolis-Carmel, IN17,26830,05112,78374%51,59525%$27,363
Fresno, CA3,3965,2311,83554%7,55824%$27,618
Tulsa, OK6,4218,2071,78628%8,30122%$31,683
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA4,6617,6002,93963%14,13321%$32,717
Richmond, VA9,39113,5394,14844%20,32320%$39,883
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA48,61271,55322,94147%112,41520%$34,809
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC3,1924,4151,22338%6,11820%$29,287
Chattanooga, TN-GA2,4634,2421,77972%9,54919%$28,863
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA4,8646,5331,66934%9,23618%$34,928
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI31,09547,39116,29652%93,54817%$31,963
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY2,7582,9692118%1,22217%$32,487
Boise City-Nampa, ID4,4316,5632,13248%12,76617%$27,783
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA83,012109,98726,97532%162,14417%$35,332
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN13,33724,91711,58087%71,53816%$29,569
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ5,4927,2441,75232%10,87116%$24,922
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI27,15943,17216,01359%107,62615%$38,248
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV9,39011,3881,99821%13,45915%$25,133
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN11,95117,2545,30344%37,91414%$26,484
Raleigh-Cary, NC6,94112,2175,27676%38,16714%$46,626
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL24,04635,84911,80349%88,98113%$34,763
Columbus, OH19,18223,7924,61024%38,00312%$27,615
Baltimore-Towson, MD18,20424,6686,46436%53,47212%$37,496
Toledo, OH4,4775,8451,36831%11,48312%$24,740
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO15,89125,7319,84062%83,95112%$40,054
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA4,8705,84297220%8,39912%$33,297
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX59,01386,75927,74647%240,62812%$32,540
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ24,36332,9908,62735%76,85111%$35,326
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA15,15119,9964,84532%44,68811%$35,463
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC3,4485,7152,26766%21,31711%$30,281
Pittsburgh, PA12,40715,3092,90223%28,54410%$37,352
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC13,72119,8336,11245%60,55910%$36,987
Modesto, CA1,7892,09130217%3,03010%$29,818
Springfield, MA2,6803,6951,01538%10,27110%$31,970
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL15,57220,2434,67130%50,9469%$28,923
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA86,265115,89729,63234%324,4619%$39,265
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA12,46618,4736,00748%71,3818%$54,756
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH29,82339,2059,38231%112,3588%$45,261
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX40,93559,59618,66146%246,5118%$47,116
El Paso, TX4,5845,8141,23027%17,5197%$23,016
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA24,99230,9225,93024%86,9487%$51,953
Ogden-Clearfield, UT2,7753,60382830%12,4027%$22,213
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX13,35017,0953,74528%56,4447%$26,360
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA19,83923,1723,33317%52,0326%$38,122
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY5,0495,61556611%9,0156%$33,035
Provo-Orem, UT1,1092,4361,327120%21,2916%$25,801
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL1,1481,82868059%11,4446%$22,197
Salt Lake City, UT8,32511,3443,01936%53,7846%$29,760
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA26,44628,0581,6126%29,2056%$23,929
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX10,07114,8484,77747%87,0565%$33,620
Colorado Springs, CO3,0773,72264521%12,4995%$34,627
Bakersfield-Delano, CA3,4915,0171,52644%31,4505%$33,067
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX2,3023,00570331%14,6535%$21,098
Baton Rouge, LA4,6275,10447710%10,6644%$46,237
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA23,15628,1504,99422%125,1344%$57,682
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR4,8174,9291122%3,2773%$25,272
Oklahoma City, OK6,6427,42378112%30,5773%$35,785
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV23,67226,3732,70111%117,2382%$55,400
Akron, OH5,5095,606972%6,7391%$24,469
Worcester, MA4,5814,7621814%12,8711%$30,145
Honolulu, HI2,7142,8661526%15,2691%$29,778
Source: QCEW Employees & Non-QCEW Employees - EMSI 2013.2 Class of Worker

Poorest-Performing Metros

Additionally, eight metros either experienced overall job loss from 2009-2013 or experienced job loss in the temp sector (the real exceptions, as we mentioned above). The worst of the lot is Albuquerque, which has nearly 10,000 fewer total jobs in 2013 than it did in 2009 and only 398 more temp jobs.

Metropolitan Statistical Area Name2009 Temp Help Jobs2013 Temp Help JobsJob Change% ChangeTotal Job Change2013 Avg. Earnings Per Temp Job
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL19,97919,977-20%33,555$39,358
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA8,2407,895-345-4%18,489$33,831
Albuquerque, NM3,8024,20039810%-9,770$36,331
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA2,2061,871-335-15%4,888$26,971
Syracuse, NY2,3952,488934%-1,215$24,302
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL1,6491,392-257-16%921$33,361
Wichita, KS3,0384,0711,03334%-3,378$32,041
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA10,34220,0999,75794%-3,428$34,349
Source: QCEW Employees & Non-QCEW Employees - EMSI 2013.2 Class of Worker

Data shown in this post comes from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market data and analysis tool. To look at temp jobs in your region or for more information on EMSI, contact Josh Wright (jwright@economicmodeling.com). Follow us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.

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