Staffing industry revenue still on track for 17% decline this year, but SIA raises growth projection for 2021


In a new forecast released Friday, SIA found that US staffing industry revenue — temporary staffing, direct hire and retained search — will shrink 17% this year compared to last, unchanged from SIA’s forecast released in July. However, SIA increased growth projections for 2021 with US staffing revenue now expected to grow 12%, up from the July forecast of 11%. SIA also updated its forecast for several segments.

“As the US economy continues to reopen and recover, we are seeing positive momentum across many segments of the staffing industry,” said Timothy Landhuis, SIA’s director of research for North America. “We project that US temporary staffing revenue will be down 14% this year, a significant drop, but not nearly as steep as the 24% decline experienced in calendar year 2009.”

Revenue is expected to fall by 35% in direct hire in 2020 and decline by 30% in retained search.

Looking back at temporary staffing, revenue projections for 2020 were upgraded for some US temporary staffing segments compared to the July forecast. Travel nurse, for example, rose to a 10% increase from 5%.

In addition, projections for industrial revenue growth now call for it to decline to 20% instead of the 22% projection in the July survey, and IT staffing revenue is now projected to decline by 9% instead of declining by 10%.

While those segments saw an improved forecast, the outlook for some segments deteriorated. Education staffing revenue is now expected to decline 40% this year compared to the 18% decline forecast in the July survey. Locum tenens staffing is now projected to decline by 15% instead of the 5% forecast in July.

The reported noted that projections for next year’s overall growth in US staffing revenue to 12% are based on three key assumptions.

  • The spread of Covid-19 will continue on a downward trend.
  • US gross domestic product will continue growth in a gradual but steady recovery.
  • A Covid-19 vaccine will be widely available in the first half of 2021.

The full report, “US Staffing Industry Forecast: September 2020 Update” with information on all staffing segments is available to corporate members of SIA.