Staffing providers reported relative weakness in new orders, according to SIA’s July 2022 Pulse Survey, suggesting a possible easing of pressure for contingent workforce buyers. However, both pay rates and bill rates are expected to increase in 2022.

Published every two months, SIA’s US Staffing Industry Pulse Survey Report provides the contingent workforce buyer with insight into the suppliers’ environment, how it affects their programs and what they should prepare for.

The net increase in new orders of 35% was down from 52% reported from the survey conducted in April and the lowest since July 2020. However, a net 42% of staffing firms surveyed still expect an increasing trend in the next six months, unchanged from the prior report.

“The decreasing trend in net new orders — percent increasing minus percent decreasing — is more a story of how elevated new orders have been since mid-2020 than a story of weakness in 2022,” says Curtis Starkey, a senior research analyst at SIA and author of the report. “After new orders remained at record highs throughout 2021, a still-strong first half of 2022 has seen a return to a more normal level. The question now is whether there is stabilization at this level, or whether inflationary pressures and slowed hiring lead to a further decrease in the second half of the year.”

Average sales difficulty increased to 2.67 from 2.50 (on a five-point scale) in June. And the talent shortage remains, with average recruiting difficulty increasing to 3.72 from 3.65 in the April survey.

2022 Projections

The Pulse survey conducted in June asked participants to give projections for calendar-year 2022 compared with 2021. Of the 128-plus participants who provided projections, both pay and bill rates are expected to increase 10% year over year in 2022, while hours worked are expected to be up 21%.

The median revenue for staffing firms is expected to increase 23% across all staffing segments this year.

Travel nursing revenue is expected to be up 51% year over year in 2022, with hours worked up 47%. Per diem nursing pay rates are expected to increase 16% and office/clerical bill rates are projected to increase 11% year over year.

Meanwhile, staffing companies primarily serving the manufacturing industry expect both pay and bill rates to be up 15% in 2022.

“The question is whether this trend is temporary or will we see balance restored to the job market,” says Matt Norton, SIA’s workforce solutions research director. “It is likely to persist in the near term unless there are (highly unlikely) significant immigration reform and loosening of legal immigration for key in demand skills. There are, however, some macroeconomic headwinds that include rising interest rates and continued supply chain problems that may slow the pace of wage inflation in this candidate-led market.”

DE&I Goals

The survey also queried staffing providers about their diversity, equity and inclusion goals, and what steps were taken to support these goals. Forty-seven percent of participants reported having DE&I goals; this included 67% of IT industry respondents, which was significantly greater than travel nurse (42%) and industrial (37%) staffing firms.

The most common step taken in support was “providing more educational resources to employees in alignment with DE&I goals” cited by 64% of respondents, followed by “revising recruiting and hiring practices,” cited by 61%.

The “July Pulse Survey Selected Findings” report is available for download to CWS Council members.

The survey for SIA’s July Pulse Report included responses from 156 staffing firms.