The contribution of staffing firms to the labor pool is nearing an all-time high. This summer, temporary workers accounted for 1.98 percent of the total nonfarm work force, the American Staffing Association reported in their annual analysis. This number exceeded the most recent peak, during November 2005, of 1.96 percent and is nearing the April 2000 all-time high of 2.03 percent.

Since June 2009, staffing agency employment rose by nearly 1 million jobs. Temporary employment not only contributed to economic recovery, but has made lasting changes, said Chief Operating Officer of ASA Steven P. Berchmen: "Businesses are using staffing services differently in this recovery than in past ones and that changed use presages a fundamental shift in the role of staffing services in the economy."

In the coming years, staffing employment is expected to continue growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment services industry is expected to grow two-thirds faster than overall employment, with 631,000 new jobs forecasted by 2020. Although temporary employment tends to be more commonplace during recoveries, if the current trends reflect a structural change in which contract workers are increasingly important, Berchmen wrote, "then even more robust growth could be on the horizon."

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