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Temporary employment agencies see an uptick

Cyndia Zwahlen | 1.17.11 | LA Times

They’re doing better as companies gain the confidence to hire again — just not permanently. But bigger temp agencies are competing now with the small fry.

At Royal Staffing Services Inc., an employment agency in Westlake Village, more requests are coming in for temporary workers. And the agency has no trouble finding people to fill the jobs.

On a recent morning, agency Chief Executive Joe Cummings got a phone call requesting two $14-an-hour customer service representatives with good computer skills. The client wanted temp workers who could be hired permanently if they worked out.

“Within 20 minutes they had two resumes, and 10 minutes after that we had two interviews scheduled,” Cummings said.

Business, he said, has “been consistently on the rise since September.”

Agencies that provide temporary staffing are benefiting from the fact that companies are feeling more optimistic about their short-term prospects but not confident enough to add permanent workers.

“The new reality is people have been much more resistant to bringing on permanent employees than they have been in the past because of the uncertainty of where the economy is going,” said Michael Neidle, president of Optimal Management, a San Mateo, Calif., consulting firm for small- and medium-size staffing companies.

The number of temporary workers jumped 25%, to an average of 2.6 million a day, in the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the American Staffing Assn.

Neidle estimated that temporary workers would make up 4% of the workforce within three years, from a low of 1.65% before the recession.

In Torrance, staffing agency owner Amy Zimmerman said sales on the temporary-employment side of her business, which accounts for about 70% of her revenue, were up 8% in 2010 compared with the year before.

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