Temp jobs rise by 80,900 in January despite peak virus levels, but overall employment growth weak


The number of US temp jobs rose by 80,900 in January, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, overall total nonfarm employment was up by just 49,000 jobs with some sectors losing jobs and others gaining as the impact of Covid-19 continues.

“Total nonfarm employment in January (+49,000) was weak amid peak virus levels last month,” said Tony Gregoire, research director at SIA. “On the other hand, peak virus levels did not prevent strong growth in temporary help jobs (+81,000), on top of a strong December (+64,000 jobs).”

January’s temp penetration rate was 1.90%, up from December’s 1.84%. The temp penetration rate is the number of temp jobs as a percent of total employment.

January’s jobs number includes annual revisions to the data, which updated previously reported numbers. As a result, the number of total nonfarm jobs reported in December was revised downward by 42,000 to a total of 142.58 million.

Nonfarm employment totaled 142.63 million in January.

The US unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January from 6.7% in December. However, the college-level unemployment rate rose to 4.0% in January from 3.8% in December.            

Temp jobs numbered 2.7 million in January after the increase of 80,900.

In other sectors, retail trade lost 38,000 jobs in January, and employment in healthcare decline by 30,000. The BLS noted job losses at nursing care facilities, home healthcare services and community care facilities for the elderly.

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