July 01, 2016

Temp Worker Trends across the States

For the past few years, temporary help has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the labor market. However, the distribution of those workers hired by staffing agencies is uneven across the United States. At the end of 2015, temp workers accounted for over 2 percent of total U.S. employment. However, the recent slowdown in staffing agency hiring, has some economists worried as businesses can easily dismiss non-permanent workers if they lose confidence in the economy.

If such a trend were to occur, the impact across the country would vary greatly due to the unevenness in temp hiring across the states.

States with The Highest Share of Temp Workers

In South Carolina, one in 25 workers is a temporary worker, the highest share in the country. Other southern states also have a relatively high percentage of staffing-agency workers. For example, Tennessee has a 3.9 percent share of employees who are temps, while Kentucky has 3.6 percent and Alabama has 3.5 percent.

Additionally, states with a strong manufacturing economy are also among top states for temp workers, such as Michigan and Illinois.

States with the Lowest Share of Temp Workers

In contrast, temps make up a smaller share of the workforce in less-populated states. For instance, in Alaska only 0.4 percent of workers are temporary. Fewer than one in 100 workers are temps in South Dakota, Hawaii, and Wyoming. 

In such states, where temp workers make up a smaller share of the labor force, pay tends to be better. The average staffing-agency employee earns 85.6 percent of the average wage of all private-sector workers in Nebraska, where temps account for 1.8 percent of all workers. In Alaska, temps earn almost 80 percent of the average wage, while the national average is 60.3 percent.

Temp Worker Employment and Wage Share by State

Temp Worker Employment and Wage Share by State

Source: U.S. Department of Labor