By Richard Wahlquist
In the world of sports, setting and breaking records is widely anticipated and highly celebrated. There are
exceptions, of course. No one wants to
hold the record for most strikeouts, most
games lost, or most last-place finishes. It’s
the same in the world of business.
The recession that began in December
2007 broke just about every unemploy-ment-related record set since the Great
Depression. For American workers, it was
particularly brutal—eight million people
lost their jobs. Even now—more than
two years after the recession’s official end
in July 2009—14 million Americans are
unemployed and an additional 10.9 million
are underemployed, according to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. When BLS
factors in the underemployed to create a
measurement known as U- 6, the nation’s
total unemployment rate in August of this
year was a whopping 16.2%.
We can only hope that these are
records that are never again broken in
our lifetimes—but we also know there
are no easy or short-term fixes, and so
do the researchers. Recent studies and
modeling by the Office of Management
and Budget and the McKinsey Global
Institute project that we won’t likely see
a return to prerecession unemployment
rates until about 2017 to 2020.
Although the staffing industry represents only about 1.7% of total U.S.
employment, the impact that staffing
and recruiting firms will have in helping
put people back to work is exponentially
greater than the industry’s size. It may not
have much influence on gross domestic
product as a whole, but the industry is
playing a critical economic role.
At the macro level, the staffing industry effectively helps reduce structural
unemployment by creating new jobs
and helping workers obtain new skills.
And, as Alan Krueger, incoming chairman of the White House Council of
Economic Advisors, determined in his
1999 research with Harvard economist
Lawrence Katz, the staffing industry also
plays an important role in reducing frictional unemployment by improving the
efficiency of matching workers to jobs.
For businesses dealing with shorter
and less predictable economic cycles,
the staffing industry is providing work
force solutions to more effectively source
talent, increase productivity, and manage
fluctuations in demand.
And while those contributions are
critical to the companies and economies
in which they operate, equally important are the benefits and opportunities
staffing firms create and deliver for the
nation’s work force.
As you will read in this special issue
of Staffing Success, U.S. staffing firms led
the way in new job creation as the economy was emerging from recession, adding
401,000 jobs on an average daily basis in
2010. ASA data indicate that the staffing
industry employed 2.58 million people
daily and 9.7 million over the course of the
year. By any measure, that’s a lot of jobs.
The staffing industry is poised for
growth and the outlook among staffing
professionals is increasingly positive.
Simply put, staffing firms can set their
sights on breaking employment records
in the months and years ahead, and
continue playing an integral role in the
economic health of the nation. n
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