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Temp jobs slow in October, wages jump as overall employment rises by 250,000

November 02, 2018

US temporary help services jobs rose by 2.2% in October on a year-over-year basis, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from a year-over-year increase of 2.8% in September, and the slowest year-over-year growth rate this year.

In total, the US added 3,300 temporary help services jobs in October.

“Regarding total nonfarm employment, this was a favorable jobs report,” said Tony Gregoire, research director at Staffing Industry Analysts. “Temporary help employment growth, however, has become increasingly mild, with the temporary penetration rate remaining roughly flat throughout most of this year. Temporary staffing may be reaching a plateau, which would be normal if we are approaching the tail end of an expansion in the business cycle.”

The temp penetration rate — temporary jobs as a percent of total employment — was little changed in October from September at 2.04%.

However, total nonfarm jobs jumped by 250,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis in October. Job gains occurred in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing. MarketWatch reported the increase in hiring last month was broad-based — not a single major industry shed jobs. Its poll of economists had forecast jobs would rise by 208,000.

In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by five cents to $27.30, which MarketWatch reported is the highest level in more than nine years. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 83 cents, or 3.1%.

The US unemployment rate was 3.7% in October, unchanged from September. The college-level unemployment rate — which can serve as a proxy for professional employment — remained at 2.0%.

Strong economic growth in the US is forcing employers to create new jobs at an even faster rate than in 2017, according to Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, at The Conference Board. As a result, labor markets are getting even tighter, creating clear upward pressure on wages.

“Wages have been accelerating faster in 2018 than in prior years,” Levanon said in a statement. “We expect wages to accelerate further by about half a percentage point through the end of 2019, as economic growth remains above trend, the labor market continues to tighten, and the other main determinants of wage growth — inflation and labor productivity — may grow faster.”

Levanon added that today’s report with fuel concerns about inflation and make the Federal Reserve more determined to continue raising interest rates.

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