The American Staffing Association (ASA) recently released their data survey for the third quarter of 2018. In the ASA Q3 survey they detail the growth of the labor markets as well as the trends and projections the data has uncovered.

Steady Growth

In Q3 of 2018 U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 3.2 million temporary and contract workers per week, marking four and a half years above 3 million.

The overall theme of quarter 3 seems to be continued and steady growth. While year-to-year numbers surrounding staffing employment increased by a small margin, the growth is on par with previous quarters. Compared with 2017, Q3 showed growth of 0.1%.

In terms of temporary and contract staffing, Q3 sales totaled $35.1 billion which is 4.2% higher than the same period in 2017. Compared to Q2 staffing employment increased 0.7% and sales increased 1.5% in Q3 2018.

Challenges of the Current Labor Market

Although the steady growth is a good sign, it does present challenges to staffing and employment professionals. The labor market is very tight and finding talent is growing more difficult every day. ASA President and CEO, Richard Walquist highlighted some of the challenges their findings support:

“In a growing economy and ever-tightening labor market, businesses are placing an even greater premium on staffing companies’ ability to source qualified flexible and permanent talent. Because job seekers have more options today than at any time in the past decade, employers really need to sharpen their focus on employee engagement in order to attract and retain top talent.”

Using this data, many search firms are investing more into their talent pipelines. Looking at their processes from top to bottom to identify efficiencies and better targeting practices. 2019 will be a year requiring executive recruiters and staffing agencies to trim the fat and compete even more for talent.

How Does Quarter 3 Stack Up?

While Q3 featured steady growth in both employment and sales numbers, it fell slightly short of Q2’s growth. Previous years have shown drops in growth during Q3 but 2018 shows a larger gap in numbers than before.

Looking forward to Q4 numbers and into 2019 recruiters and staffing professionals are in for stiff competition for talent. Strong growth in employment and sales following the 2008 recession is beginning to level off in the face of 30-year lows in national unemployment numbers. Industry experts are forecasting continued growth following strong preliminary reports in Q4.

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