Overall, it's not a happy jobs day. The unemployment rate rose to 10.2% last month, more than economists expected and the highest level in more than 26 years. Employers also cut more jobs than economists expected: 190,000 compared with forecasts of 175,000.
But one piece of good news, that the White House pointed out, and temp firms themselves are touting, is that the number of temporary jobs increased by 33,700. And that's the first increase since late 2006, according to Tig Gilliam, CEO of Adecco Group North America.
Hiring more temporary employees is often a first step to adding permanent jobs, and it's typically a leading jobs indicator. But judging from other information that Mr. Gilliam provided in a statement, it may also mean that employers are planning to be more cautious for a while.
"Employers are focused on learning from the lessons of this recession, and now more than ever, they are embracing strategies to achieve workforce optimization and increased flexibility," Mr. Gilliam said in his statement. "We're being consulted to develop solutions for questions like how can I have an on-demand workforce that expands and contracts more easily, based on my business needs? How can I improve productivity while keeping the employees I currently have from being overworked and overstressed?"
"On-demand workforce"? "Improve productivity"? Doesn't sound like employers necessarily want temp employees to go perm, as a matter of course as the economy improves.
Still, the "shift in perspective" is a positive, Mr. Gilliam said. "These approaches represent a significant improvement in employer confidence and it marks a real shift from where we were just a few months ago when clients were asking, how can we effectively reduce our headcount?"
At this rate, we'll take whatever good news, wherever we can find it.