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More jobs, higher wages for 2011?

It's a good sign when both employers and employees are more confident about job growth.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 18, 2011 11:11AM

This post comes from Michael Koretzky at partner site Money Talks News.


We recently told you about three cautiously optimistic employment predictions. Well, here are three more for 2011. And this time, the good news is spread around a bit.

Temp wages on the rise. "Wages for skilled temporary employees have finally bottomed out and are inching up," says the Yoh Index of Wages, which for a decade has been following wages of temp workers in IT, engineering, science, health care and telecommunications, among other industries.


Last September, those temp workers earned an average of $29.81 an hour -- a four-year low. But in December, it climbed back up to $31.55. And that's good news even if you're not an engineer.


"Real wage increases for skilled temporary employees serve as harbingers for the direction of the economy, especially early in the recovery cycle when businesses are still unwilling to hire full-time employees for highly paid, skilled positions," says Yoh president Lori Schultz. "Temporary workers blunt the risk of a still-uncertain economy by providing just-in-time employees that can be more easily managed to balance indefinite customer demand."


In other words, when the boss isn't sure the economy is really coming back, he hires temp workers he can fire if everything goes south again.


But even permanent jobs are looking up.


More temps sticking around. "Almost a year into the recovery, we are starting to see more of a conversion from temporary to permanent recruitment, which is very encouraging for both employers and workers, and is the key to creating the momentum and confidence needed to drive hiring through 2011," says Jeff Joerres, CEO of staffing firm Manpower. "Companies are starting to take on more permanent staff as they experience greater demand for their goods and services, and temporary jobs continue to be created as firms see a need to generate more product."


Joerres pointed to December's unemployment rate of 9.4%, the lowest since May 2009. In December alone, unemployment dropped by 556,000, to 14.5 million, and, Joerres adds, "December and January are historically weak months for hiring."


Employees are more optimistic. Slowly but surely, employees are growing more confident about their prospects too. "Twenty-five percent of U.S. workers believe the economy is getting stronger, an increase of three percentage points from November," says staffing firm SFN Group (.pdf file) in a new poll. "Thirty-six percent of workers are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, representing an increase of four percentage points from the previous month."


Those are good signs to SFN Group CEO Roy Krause, who says the poll is "an indicator that perhaps the economic recovery is gaining traction and 2011 will see a return to healthier hiring activity."


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