Temp Wages Continue Rise, Signaling Longer-Term Gains For Permanent Workers

Wages at temp agencies are continuing upward.

Like at On Assignment Inc., based in California and specializing in IT and health care temps, where salaries rose 6.3 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the largest gain since 2008.

San Diego-based AMN Healthcare Services Inc. increased rates twice as many times from January to April 2011 as it did from January to June 2010. Robert Half International rose its rates by 2.4 percent.

It helps that On Assignment, AMN, and Robert Half specialize in industries that are more in demand (Robert Half does legal). But the increases point to a broader trend: salaries are picking up.

Temp agencies are “the first to reflect changes in wages because demand for their services is more immediate,” analysts told the Louisville Courier-Journal. That makes temp wages the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

While the immediate wage gains for temps will likely be limited to workers whose skills are in short supply, like the aforementioned healthcare and legal temps, overall wage gains for temps and permanent employees should occur by the end of the year, said analyst Kathryn Kobe.