As reported by Phoenix Business Journal’s Molly Kissler.

Six of the top staffing agencies in the Phoenix area are reporting an increase in permanent job placements for the first time in two years.
Mike Hayes, owner and president of Momentum Specialized Staffing in Phoenix, said his company has seen job placement jump by almost 50 percent since the summer of 2009, which was the company’s worst year in the past five.

“Our peak time for temporary to permanent job placement was in 2007,” Hayes said. “At that time, we placed somewhere between 500 and 600 people into permanent jobs. It started to decline in 2008, and by 2009 it dropped to well under 200. This year, we expect to place around 400.”
Jeff Seifert, general manager of Professional Placement Inc., said last summer not only was the company’s worst year for hiring in the past five, but it also was the worst year since he joined the firm 19 years ago.

But, he said, “2010 is blowing the doors off of 2009.” He said PPI’s hiring numbers have increased by 40 percent since last summer.
Nationally, staffing agency placement numbers for June are 25 percent higher than the same period last year, and staffing employment has shown steady growth over the past 18 weeks, according to the American Staffing Association Staffing Index.

Cheryle Harrell, vice president of Allstaff Services Inc., said employers are becoming increasingly specific now that they are looking for new hires again, and budgets are still tight.

“Employers are now requesting well-rounded candidates with large skills sets,” Harrell said. “Although companies are hiring more, they are still cautious with their budget. We are seeing an increase in the demand for an employee who can handle two or three jobs that have been wrapped into one.”

All of the staffing agencies interviewed for this story said new hires, although required to be more experienced, on average, still are getting paid less than they did last summer.

Scott Dixon, chief operating officer of Acclivity Healthcare, said middle management and supervisor positions have been hit with the biggest pay cuts. New hires, he said, were getting paid more last summer, despite the low number of job offers.

Deniese Hollingsworth, a Professional Placement Inc. client, is looking for a permanent job as a sales or marketing representative in the environmental industry. She said she is getting job offers much faster this year than last.

“I worked with Professional Placement last year and it took quite a while to find a job because of the downturn in the economy,” Hollingsworth said. “This year, I already have four jobs in the pipeline and I just contacted the agency a week ago.”

In Arizona, the job sectors experiencing the most growth are farming, education administration, and medical and health services management, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Around the country, mining, manufacturing, health care and food industry jobs are hiring the most employees.
While medical hiring is strong in Arizona, some in the staffing industry say dental care jobs have fallen off.

Gina Brecht, president of Desert Medical Staffing, said her company has seen a 10 percent decline in the number of hires for position in the dental field, such as hygienists and front-office support staff. The company, which averaged 200 placements a year, is on track to do about 180 this year, she said. She attributes the decline to several small dental practices going out of business.

Arizona’s unemployment rate rose from 9.2 percent in May 2009 to 9.6 percent in May of this year.

The June 2010 Job Search Difficulty Index published by Juju Inc., a job search engine, ranks Phoenix No. 29 out of the 50 most-difficult cities in which to find a job. Still, the Arizona Department of Commerce projects a gradual statewide jobs recovery, with a slight gain next year.

“We are expecting a 1 percent positive gain for the state as a whole in 2011,” said ADOC labor market analyst Van Sickle. “Health care has experienced the most growth in 2010, and we are projecting that it will also experience the most growth in the next year.”