Number of U.S. temporary jobs reaches all-time high in May

Positions often filled by younger people, women, minorities

(Reuters) WASHINGTON — The number of jobs in the U.S. temporary help services industry reached an all-time high in May, signaling a recovering labour market and potential future boost in employment.

Temporary jobs increased to 2.9 million, accounting for 2.4 per cent of all private-sector jobs in the country, according to a Commerce Department report released Wednesday.

Because of their flexibility, temporary jobs are considered a leading indicator for employment, the report said, with data showing these jobs consistently see losses and gains pre- and post-recession that are later mirrored in total nonfarm employment numbers.

"When the downturn is over and demand for goods and services returns, hiring temporary workers is a good solution to quickly fill labor needs," the report said. "Firms might be reluctant to bring on permanent employees until the recovery is well-established or it might take time for firms to find the right match in a prospective employee."

The jobs are generally paid less and given fewer benefits than their full-time counterparts, the report said. It described the positions as more often filled by younger people, women and African-Americans, usually without professional degrees, who are working unpredictable hours and given little job security.

The report came out ahead of the government's more comprehensive employment report on Thursday.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely increased 230,000 jobs in June after a robust 280,000 gain in May. The unemployment rate was forecast dipping one-tenth of a percentage point back to a seven-year low of 5.4 per cent.

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