US adds 19,300 temp jobs in May, up 13% over year


The number of US temporary help services jobs rose by 19,300 in May from April’s revised number, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. May’s temp job numbers represented a year-over-year increase of nearly 13%, with the number of temp jobs totaling nearly 3.2 million.

In addition, total nonfarm employment rose as the US added 390,000 jobs. The temp penetration rate — temporary jobs as a percent of total jobs — rose to 2.09% in May from 2.08% in April.

“Overall job gains were strong in May, and temporary staffing growth continues, with double-digit growth in headcount and the temporary penetration rate at record levels,” said Barry Asin, president of Staffing Industry Analysts. “While overall employment is still about 800,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels, several more months of solid job growth should be enough to get employment back to pre-pandemic levels.”

May’s unemployment rate was 3.6%, unchanged from April. The college-level unemployment rate — a proxy for professional employment — was 2.0% in May, also unchanged from April.

The BLS cited notable jobs gains in “leisure and hospitality,” “professional and business services,” and “transportation and warehousing.”

The leisure and hospitality segment gained 84,000 jobs in May with continued growth in “food services and drinking places” and in “accommodation.” However, the number of jobs in this segment remains down 7.9% from its February 2020 pre-pandemic level.

Professional and business services jobs rose by 75,000 in May with gains in “accounting and bookkeeping services,” “computer systems design and related services,” and “scientific research and development services.” This segment had 821,000 more jobs in May than in February 2020.

In addition, transportation and warehousing added 47,000 jobs with an increase of 18,000 in “warehousing and storage” alone. Employment in this segment is up by 709,000 jobs in May compared to its pre-pandemic level.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose by 10 cents in May to a total of $31.95. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 15 cents to $27.33.

The BLS noted the labor force participation rate, at 62.3%, was little changed over the month and is 1.1 percentage points below its February 2020 value.