Temp job numbers continue recovery in July, but still down 19% over year


The number of temporary help jobs in the US rose by 143,700 in July, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2.38 million temp jobs remained below the pre-pandemic level of 2.89 million in March. Still, the temp penetration rate — temporary jobs as a percent of total employment — rose in July to 1.71% from 1.62% in June.

Temp job numbers had fallen dramatically in April, down 30.6% from the same period a year ago. They have been increasing since. In July, temp jobs were down by 18.9% year over year.

July’s addition of 143,700 temp jobs was in line with the 143,800 added in June. May had added 46,900 jobs following a loss of 840,500 in April.

One note, the BLS revised downward the number of temp jobs added in June by 5,100.

“The unprecedented rise of 288,000 jobs in temporary help from May to July is encouraging, but the recovery should decelerate in the coming months, as it is difficult to imagine a complete return to pre-Covid levels anytime soon without a vaccine,” said Tony Gregoire, director of custom research at SIA, in coverage of today’s jobs report by SIA’s research team.

Total nonfarm employment in July rose by 1.76 million jobs from the previous month— that is below the  4.8 million jobs added in June and 2.7 million added in May.

In addition, there are questions about the amount of steam left in the recovery. Some see employment growth slowing.

“We do not expect employment growth to expand much in the coming months, partly due to the uncertainty about government stimulus, the $600 enhanced unemployment aid, in particular, and the high likelihood that funding will become less generous,” said Gad Levanon, VP of The Conference Board Labor Market Institute. “As a result, the recovery in consumer spending, economic activity, and employment will significantly slow down in the coming months.”

Turning back to the BLS data released today, it reported industries with notable job gains in July included leisure and hospitality, government, retail trade, professional and business services, other services, and healthcare.

The US unemployment rate improved to 10.2% in July from 11.1% in June and 13.3% in May. However, it was 3.7% in July 2019.

Separately, the college-level unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in July from 6.9% in June.

Click on image to enlarge.