January 2021 Jobs Report: Temporary Staffing Accounts for 83% of Job Growth

Posted: February, 12, 2021 | Categories: Job Market Updates


As all of us at JWilliams put our industry (and professionals from other industries) back to work, we like to stay up-to-date on US labor statistics to see how the workforce is shifting. Here’s an overview of some pertinent data from last month.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor statistics employment situation report, while the job market saw minimal change in January 2021 (as opposed to December of 2020) the U.S. job market did see a modest payroll expansion in January, with 49,000 jobs added. This number accounts for job gains in industries that are doing well, offset by losses in industries such as leisure and hospitality. The unemployment rate, which fell by 0.4 percent, was at 6.3 percent in January.

While the labor market continues to reflect the impact of the coronavirus, we can see gradual growth as the U.S. works to contain the virus. Although the change is slow, the job market continued to see growth in January from November and December of 2020.


Temporary help services accounted for more than 83% of job growth in January


“Professional and business services rose by 97,000, with temporary help services accounting for most of the gain (+81,000)” – Bureau of Labor Statistics

According to a recent article from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the reason we see temporary help services leading recent job growth is because they, “provide greater flexibility in meeting [employer’s] staffing needs. When the economy expands, employers are able to ramp up quickly by using temporary workers until permanent staff are hired. Also, temporary help agencies offer flexible staffing, candidate screening, and the opportunity to try out potential hires before committing to a permanent employment contract.”

As temporary work continues to pave the way for job growth in the U.S., here are some other industries that saw job growth in January:

  • Real Estate & Leasing: 7,100 jobs added
  • Residential Construction: 3,600 jobs added
  • Office Administrative Services: 4,500 jobs added
  • Repair and Maintenance: 1,200 jobs added
  • Legal Services: 4,800 jobs added
  • Accounting and bookkeeping: 3,800 jobs added

Some industries, however, saw notable employment decreases including transportation and warehousing, which saw a decrease in 28,000 jobs in January. While construction saw an overall decrease by 3,000 jobs as compared to December 2020, residential construction specifically saw an increase by 3,600 jobs.


The average workweek for all employees increased to 35 hours in January


Compared to December 2020, the average workweek for all employees increased by 0.3 hours, bringing the average workweek up to 35.0 hours.

The number of employees who worked from home in January also decreased to 23.2 percent.


The number of unemployed persons decreased to 10.1 million


With unemployment falling to 6.3 percent (compared to 6.7 percent in December 2020), the job market saw a decrease in unemployed persons leading to a total of 10.1 million unemployed. While this is a stark decrease from the 30 million reported in April, it is still significantly higher number of unemployed persons as compared to this time last year (which was roughly 5.7 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Looking for qualified employees as you ramp up business?

JWilliams Staffing’s expert recruiters carefully screen, train, and identify the cross application of skillsets in candidates necessary to excel in their career. Learn more about our temporary and direct hire staffing services today!

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Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, February 5). The Employment Situation - January 2021 [Press release].

Luo, T. (2021, February 8). What happened to temps? Changes since the Great Recession : Monthly Labor Review: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By JWilliams Staffing

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