Nov 01, 2014

Regional Staffing Highlights

Every six weeks, the Federal Reserve Board releases a report describing the current economic condition for each of the Federal Reserve Districts. According to the most recent release of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, conditions for staffing services are generally positive across all districts.

Nearly all the districts reported difficulties in finding certain types of skilled labor and little change in wage pressures.


Staffing firms cited increased activity with labor demand especially strong in the information technology, software, aerospace, nursing, electronics, and legal industries. Meanwhile, labor supply is unchanged with continued shortages of high-end technical workers. In order to recruit and engage these high-skilled workers, staffing firms are expanding their social media outreach programs and investing in technology innovations such as mobile compatibility.

In August 2014, job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that Massachusetts lost 5,300 jobs and the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, below the national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.

New York

New York employment agencies report that the job market is strengthening. Manufacturing firms continue to add workers and a growing number of service firms say that they are hiring.

Private employment in New York City rose by 25,000 between June and July 2014, while the unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent to 7.8 percent.


Staffing firms in Philadelphia report modest growth. These companies say that they are adding new clients and are optimistic about revenues through 2014.

In August 2014, employment grew by 0.8 percent year-over-year in Pennsylvania. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, unemployment rates for Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are expected to remain unchanged in September 2014.


Companies in Cleveland say that while they would like to boost their workforces, they are unable to find qualified talent. Staffing firms report little change in the number of job openings and in placements.

In 2015, the minimum wage of non-tipped employees in Ohio will increase to $8.10 per hour, and the minimum wage for tipped employees will increase to $4.05 per hour. According to a recent report from Cleveland State University’s Center for Population Dynamics, Cleveland ranks eighth on a list of metros with the highest percentage of employed individuals aged 25 to 34 with graduate or professional degrees.


In Richmond, demand for both temporary and permanent workers has increased slightly in recent weeks. In Maryland, manufacturing, financial services, technology, and construction companies report growth in hiring. Manufacturers and call centers in North Carolina face issues in finding skilled labor to fill open positions.

Due to holiday hiring, there are hundreds of seasonal jobs in the retail sector available in Richmond. In August 2014, the unemployment rate in Richmond was 6.1 percent, while average hourly earnings increased by 0.2 percent


Businesses in the Atlanta district report modest increases in hiring and stable wage growth. Companies say that they have difficulty filling mid-level positions such as analysts and clinicians, along with positions in trucking, engineering, construction, and information technology. Some businesses report rising wages and continuing upward wage pressure for high-skill, low-supply job titles.

A recent employment forecast survey revealed that only 22 percent of chief financial officers in metro Atlanta have plans to create jobs in the next six months. According to BLS, the unemployment rate in Atlanta in August 2014 increased to 8.0 percent from 7.5 percent two months earlier.


The pace of hiring has slowed, though demand remains strong for skilled workers in professional and technical occupations. Labor shortages have been reported in manufacturing, construction, transportation, IT, and healthcare. In the trade, transportation, and utilities industries, staffing firms report increases in billable hours.

In August 2014, employment in the Chicago metro area was up 383,000, with the largest increases in professional and business services. Wages in Illinois were up 0.7 percent year-over-year.

St. Louis

Wages and employment levels have increased slightly over the past three months. Approximately 61 percent of respondents reported that employment levels have remained stable year-over-year, while 31 percent report a slight increase. Companies in the healthcare, finance, retail, transportation, and telecommunications industry say that they have plans for hiring and expansion. Meanwhile, businesses in food, information technology, and new media services have announced plans to lay off workers.

As of August 2014, the St. Louis metro area remains 33,500 jobs short of its pre-cession peak, while national employment has been above pre-recession levels since May 2014. A report by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) predicts that by 2022, jobs in STEM fields will grow by 12.4 percent in St. Louis and 10.2 percent in Missouri. Boeing is expected to move 500 jobs from the state of Washington to St Louis over the next three years.


The labor market in this region shows signs of gradual tightening. Over half of the respondents expect to retain the same number of full-time employees on their workforce over the next 12 months, while approximately one third anticipate increased employment. Overall wage increases are moderate, though some trucking firms note that they have raised wages to attract drivers.

According to recent BLS figures, total non-farm employment in the Minneapolis metro area increased by 2.6 percent In July 2014 year-over-year, with the largest increases in the manufacturing industry. Average hourly wage in the area is $24.54, above the national average of $22.33.

Kansas City

For some high-skilled positions, wage pressures have increased slightly. Many businesses report difficulty in finding qualified workers across a variety of skill levels and industries.

A forecast by Frank Lenk, Director of Research Services at Mid-America Regional Council, states that there will be approximately 20,000 new jobs in the Kansas City area next year. According to the Conference Board, jobs advertised online in the area dropped by 800 to 37,700 from August 2014 to September 2014. Meanwhile, the Associated General Contractors of America stated that Kansas City was one of 220 U.S. metro areas that had gained employment in the construction industry, with 1,600 more construction jobs compared to the year before.


Employment at most staffing firms increased, though many agencies reported difficulties in finding skilled talent. Staffing services firms say that wage pressures remain strongest for skilled positions, particularly with upward pressures in the manufacturer sector and energy industry. 

As discussed in October’s edition of DCR TrendLine in “Temp Employment at an All-Time High”, Dallas has had a large growth in the temp sector, creating almost 24,000 temp jobs in the year ending July 2014. In August 2014, the Texas economy added 20,100 jobs to rank third nationally in job growth. 

San Francisco

Wages increased at a modest pace, though skilled construction workers and technical workers in the computer industry experienced higher wage gains. Additionally, there is upward pressure on salaries for entry-level positions in the finance industry.

The latest figures from BLS indicated that total non-farm employment in the San Francisco area increased by 2.7 percent in August 2014 year-over-year. In August 2014, unemployment in the metro area was down to 4.5 percent from 4.8 percent in the month before.

“The New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco districts characterized their growth rates as moderate; Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Kansas City reported modest growth. Boston reported that business activity appeared to be improving, and Richmond reported further strengthening. ~Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, September 3, 2014