Temporary Jobs Up And Down In Columbus

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While the recession technically ended 15 months ago, Ohio’s unemployment rate still stands above ten percent. The national jobless rate is only slightly lower. Many who are out of work look to temporary employment to help pay the bills. Some economists say the tempo of the temporary workforce is an indicator of the economy’s health. WOSU looks at temporary hiring in Central Ohio.

“It’s not bleak, but it’s dark,” Bruce Johnson said.

Johnson is TRC Staffing Services’ operations manager. He said his Columbus office saw an uptick in hires earlier this year, but he said it has since plateaued.

“We are seeing new placements, but they are a lot fewer and farther between than we would think in a turning around economy,” Johnson said.

And it’s the same way at Columbus Staffing. Jeff Peltier is an account executive. He said job placement started slowing down in April.

“There are more clients than openings. And sad to say there are more employees than assignments at this moment,” Peltier said.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Kathlene Tarsitano with Express Employment thought hiring had reached its peak, but she recently has seen it turn around.

“In the past three months, we have increased in office service placement, manufacturing placement as well as direct hire placement,” Tarsitano said.

So what does all this mean for the economy? While some experts say temporary jobs cannot indicate what the economy is doing, others say it can help predict which direction the labor market is headed.

Bruce Weinberg is an economics professor at Ohio State University. He said people remain uncertain about the economy. And temporary hires, Weinberg said, can gauge the level of confidence businesses have about the future.

“A company that’s hiring temporarily, you are finding out something about what it thinks its prospects are going forward. That its prospects are an improvement over what its current status is, but that it may not be sufficiently confident that things are going to continue to grow long term,” Weinberg said.

And Weinberg said if a company finds business is not meeting expectations, a temporary worker is easier to let go than someone in a permanent position committed to the job. The condition in Columbus remains murky. As some companies find success in placing people in jobs, others continue to struggle. And those who are hope the approaching holiday season will bring relief.