Temporary help employment fell for the eighth consecutive month in September with a decline of 4,200 jobs to a total of more than 2.9 million, according to data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it was the slowest pace of decline since March, which saw a month-over-month decline of 3,300.

September’s decrease in temporary help jobs followed a decrease of 17,500 in August, based on revised data; the change in temporary help services employment in July was revised to a loss of 17,400 from a loss of 23,900.

The temp penetration rate — temp jobs as a percent of total jobs — remained at 1.88% in September.

Total nonfarm employment, on the other hand, rose by 336,000 jobs to almost 156.9 million, a bigger increase than the 227,000 added in August.

“The stronger-than-expected job gains in September give added hope that the US economy can have a soft landing as inflation continues to gradually decline,” said Timothy Landhuis, SIA’s VP of research. “Meanwhile, the number of jobs in the temporary help industry remained roughly stable on a month-over-month basis, a welcome reprieve from the substantial declines reported in each of the prior three months.”

The US unemployment rate remained at 3.8% in September, unchanged from August but up from 3.5% in July. Meanwhile, the college-level unemployment rate — which can serve as a proxy for professional employment — edged downward to 2.1% in September from 2.2% in August.

Looking at September’s results, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the most job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, followed by government; healthcare; professional, scientific, and technical services; and social assistance.

Leisure and hospitality added 96,000 jobs in September, above the average monthly gain of 61,000 over the prior 12 months.

Government employment increased by 73,000, above the average monthly gain of 47,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, state government education rose by 29,000, and local government, excluding education, rose by 27,000.

Healthcare added 41,000 jobs in September, compared with the average monthly gain of 53,000 over the prior 12 months. Increases in employment continued to trend upward in ambulatory healthcare services, up by 24,000; hospitals, up 8,000; and nursing and residential care facilities, also up 8,000.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on nonfarm payrolls rose by seven cents in September to $33.88. They have increased by 4.2% over the past 12 months.

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