Job Front: Hiring temps seen as sign of improving economy

Published: Monday, May. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, May. 6, 2013 - 5:09 am

Sacramento-area personnel firms were among the region's leaders in online job posts – a sign that employers continue to look to temporary workers to fill staffing needs.

The Help Wanted Online report released in late April by the state's Employment Development Department tracked online posts for March, the latest month available.

Though Mercy Hospital, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente continued to hold spots on the report's top 10 list of employers, six staffing firms made the top 10.

Volt Workforce Solutions was highest at No. 3, with 359 posts, while staffing firm Randstad (189), tech personnel staffer Aerotek (158), Allegis Group (153), Kelly Services (129) and health care staffer Soliant (126) took the final five spots.

Local market analyst Rick Reed conducts a quarterly employment survey for Sacramento personnel firm Pacific Staffing.

Reed said the numbers show that local employers are adding staff, but are not yet ready to commit to full-time hires.

"Employers are getting back into gear (but) there's still anxiety about the economy," Reed said. "Employers are becoming punch-drunk from the blows of economic life. It's why employees are using temp-to-perm. If there's a change, they can step back without consequences."

Jay Jurschak, president of Pacific Staffing, said employers' lingering reaction to recession and uncertainty about how the Affordable Care Act will affect their businesses contribute to the anxiety.

But, he added, temporary hires often indicate the beginnings of economic recovery.

"When recoveries do begin, temporary hires do see some of the first increases because employers are being cautious," Jurschak said. "Temporary is a leading indicator. If things tend to hold up, people who are hired as temps do get hired full time."

Kimberly Stiener-Murphy, Sacramento branch manager at staffing firm Robert Half International, said the numbers say as much about companies' need for expediency as their economic anxiety.

Employers who shut down their recruiting efforts during the recession now must fill staffing needs quickly, Stiener-Murphy said.

"We're seeing a lot more temp-to-hires. Many companies cut their recruiting budgets," she said. "We're seeing a steady increase in business quarter over quarter."

At Robert Half, positions in demand include financial analysts, marketing, human resources and information technology professionals.

That mostly squares with the EDD's numbers.

Three IT positions – computer systems analyst, software applications developer, and Web developer – were among the 10 occupations with the most online job ads in the EDD's report, combining for more than 1,400 postings.

Wading through stacks of résumés, recruiting and vetting candidates takes time that some hiring officers don't have.

"They waited so long to hire and now they have to. By the time they pull the trigger, they need someone now," Stiener-Murphy said. "This is a time when efficiency is so important and turnover is expensive."

That urgency can create an avenue for job seekers who sign on with an agency to turn a temporary position into a dress rehearsal for their next opportunity.

"It's almost like super-networking," Stiener-Murphy said. "You can go to an event and shake their hand or you can show them what you do."

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Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

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