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It’s Time to Re-Energize Your Job-Search Efforts  March 8 2011 12:15:00 PM

Strong job-growth numbers in February and a slight dip in unemployment should encourage people to restart the job search — especially in the temporary job market. The unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent, as the private sector added 222,000 jobs, according to today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Today you heard a big sigh of relief in a lot of places: on Wall Street, in the Obama administration and from people who are out of work,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm. “If you let your job search slip a little, it’s time to re-energize your efforts.”

The manufacturing and construction industries posted strong gains, a collective 66,000 new jobs. Meanwhile, government jobs droppped by 30,000 as state and local governments cut payrolls to mitigate budget woes.

Promising signs

William Rodgers III, a professor at Rutgers University and former chief economist of the Labor Department, was encouraged by the data.

“It’s a signal that the acceleration we’re seeing in other parts of the economy is starting to shift over to the job market,” he said. “We’re starting to get some momentum.”

Temporary jobs, in particular, are a good place to gain a toehold in the work force, experts said. Of the 222,000 private sector jobs added in February, 15,500 were temporary, according to Jodi Chavez, senior vice president for Accounting Principles, a division of Adecco, a human resources firm.

When the economy starts to bounce back, temporary staffing firms are among the first to hire, said Chavez. Many companies are still “a little gun-shy” to sign on full-time employees, she added.

A temporary post can be “almost like a job interview,” said Andrew Steinerman, an analyst who covers the temporary staffing industry for JPMorgan. “Once you’re on assignment, you have a chance to prove yourself for a full time job. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door.”

Temporary staffing has been increasing since the recession ended. Some observers are predicting that in the next few years temp workers will be a larger part of the labor force than ever before.

Chavez advises that those who want to try temporary staffing should find a temporary staffing firm that specializes in their field.

“If you’re an IT worker, go to an IT temporary staffing firm. If you’re in manufacturing, go to a manufacturing temporary staffing firm,” she said.

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