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< Back Career Advice

2014’s top occupations and metros for temporary employment growth

Eric Gilpin, president of Staffing & Recruiting Group at CareerBuilder | March 27, 2014

Temporary employment is helping improve the economy and connecting workers with projects and paychecks. Learn the best metros and occupations for temporary workers here.

In the short time since the economic recession, America’s workforce has changed in many ways. Many workers have sought higher education and certifications, some have switched industries to try out new careers, while others have discovered the benefits of being a temporary or contract worker. These different paths are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they often intersect.

In recent years, temporary employment has not only accelerated, but new data suggests its upward trajectory will continue throughout 2014. According to CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., more than 2.9 million U.S. workers were employed in temporary jobs in 2013, jumping 28 percent since 2010 and outpacing the 5 percent growth rate for all jobs. This is a hiring trend that employers are embracing for a number of reasons.

The appeal of temporary work
The boom in temporary workers is neither a mystery nor an isolated phenomenon. Companies want more flexibility in their respective workforces to quickly ramp up and ramp down their businesses as needed. Temporary workers provide that flexibility.

Temporary employment is growing across industries and metros, and the benefits of this flexibility isn’t only for the employer. Temporary and contract work provides great opportunities for workers to test-drive different work experiences as they explore new industries, put their new education and certifications into practice, and network with potential employers. For job seekers looking to bring variety to their search or those who may find a more compatible work life in temporary employment, this hiring trend can be the next big step in a career.

In a separate CareerBuilder and Harris Poll study, 42 percent of employers reported that they plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014, up from 40 percent last year. Of these employers, two in five (43 percent) plan to transition some temporary employees into full-time, permanent staff.

The fastest growers
To see how these business needs may align with a job seeker’s, CareerBuilder and EMSI compiled a list of the fastest-growing occupations and metros for temporary employment in 2014, using EMSI’s extensive labor market database of over 90 national and state employment resources.

First, top occupations for growth in temporary employment were identified. Among occupations that pay in the middle-wage to high-wage range and are expected to see the greatest percentage increase for temporary job growth in 2014, are:

TOP OCCUPATIONS FOR GROWTH IN TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT IN 2014TOTAL TEMP JOBS 2013TOTAL TEMP JOBS 2014% CHANGE 2013-2014MEDIAN EARNINGS PER HOUR1
HUMAN RESOURCES SPECIALISTS61,64264,0494%$26.83
CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVES90,21593,0413%$14.70
CONSTRUCTION LABORERS72,91475,1833%$14.42
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS269,39871,5733%$15.58
REGISTERED NURSES56,23358,0003%$31.48
BOOKKEEPING, ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING CLERKS29,32630,2573%$16.91
MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR WORKERS, GENERAL29,26030,1833%$16.93
INSPECTORS, TESTERS, SORTERS, SAMPLERS AND WEIGHERS27,30528,1783%$16.57
HEAVY AND TRACTOR-TRAILER TRUCK DRIVERS23,76024,5273%$18.37
MACHINISTS22,46023,1823%$18.99
SALES REPRESENTATIVES, SERVICES, ALL OTHER322,30022,9843%$24.45
COMPUTER USER SUPPORT SPECIALISTS17,35117,8953%$22.32

The top metropolitan areas for temp workers
Besides these specific occupations that are seeing a boon in temporary employment, there are metros across the country taking part in the hiring trend. The metropolitan statistical areas that employed at least 20,000 temporary workers in 2013 and are projected to have the greatest percentage increase for temporary job growth in 2014 are:

TOP METROS FOR GROWTH IN TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT IN 2014TOTAL TEMP JOBS 2013TOTAL TEMP JOBS 2014% CHANGE 2013-20142013 AVERAGE EARNINGS PER JOB
GRAND RAPIDS, MI25,33627,4658%$21,822
INDIANAPOLIS, IN35,05337,3827%$28,026
SEATTLE-TACOMA, WA35,97138,0906%$53,068
ORLANDO, FL24,17525,5126%$30,625
RIVERSIDE-SAN BERNARDINO, CA34,81136,6105%$24,304
MEMPHIS, TN27,75729,2475%$24,742
DETROIT, MI51,43853,6224%$39,778
PORTLAND, OR23,50024,3344%$37,577
CHICAGO, IL157,839162,1133%$31,743
LOS ANGELES, CA140,927144,9933%$33,620
DALLAS, TX102,938105,3623%$33,624
ATLANTA, GA74,30376,5303%$36,496

As this wide range of occupations and metros indicates, there are plenty of benefits to temporary employment, and job seekers will have many opportunities to share the rewards in this growing market.

Erik Gilpin is president of CareerBuilder’s Staffing & Recruiting Group.

1 Median earnings per hour covers anyone working in that occupation whether they are temporary or full-time, permanent staff

2 Full category name as defined by the BLS is Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive

3Sales Representatives, Services, All Other is a catch-all category that includes sales professionals who are not assigned to a specific category such as Insurance Sales Agents