When it comes to signs of hope on the job front, there are two numbers that I watch. One of them is the level of temporary hiring -- and there is news on that front from the American Staffing Association.
Here's why I watch temp hiring: When the going gets tough, temporary workers get the boot first as companies try to avoid layoffs. That decline in temporary staffing began in the first quarter of 2008, after a record great year in 2007.
When there are hints of improvement, companies will, ever so slowly, begin the hiring by bringing on some temp workers -- if only to ease the stress on layoff survivors. The companies start with the temps, because they are gun shy about hiring folks after so many layoffs. Full hiring follows, albeit slowly, temp hiring.
Temporary hiring has been a disaster, with all those temps losing work and not getting any other new gigs. As far as the American Staffing Association is concerned, any month where the numbers don't go down, or don't go down much, is an occasion for champagne. God knows what they'd do if there was actually a rebound!
Anyway, the Staffing Association is pleased to report that although temporary hiring remains pathetic, but it hasn't gotten worse. So that's the good news -- a crumb, but we'll take it.