For contingent workforce program owners, maintaining strong relationships with your providers and understanding their business trends are key to getting the best talent to fill your workforce needs. And this is even more important in the current environment, where talent is in scarce supply — especially on short notice and for temporary roles.

Published every other month, SIA’s US Staffing Industry Pulse Survey Report provides the contingent workforce buyer with insight into the supplier’s environment and how it affects them. This article discusses results from the November 2021 Pulse Survey Report; the survey included 163 participating staffing firms.

Temporary staffing revenue from the November Pulse survey was in line with numbers from the prior survey. Respondents reported a median 27% year-over-year increase in their US temporary staffing revenue in October, up slightly from the 26% year-over-year increase in August.

Bill rates, new orders still trending upward. The survey offers some insight into bill rates and new orders. A net 67% of staffing firms reported an increasing trend in bill rates over the last three months and a net 48% expect an increasing trend in the next six months. In addition, 80% of firms reported an increasing trend in new orders over the last three months and a net 73% expect an increasing trend in the next six months.

This means staffing firms have plenty of options and reinforces the importance of a buyer being top-of-mind with their providers in order to get the best service, talent and rates.

Your provider landscape. The healthcare sectors dominated with the travel nurse skill segment continuing to benefit from the pandemic, with median year-over-year revenue growth exceeding 100%.

Amid nonhealthcare sectors, the strongest growth came from IT and marketing/creative staffing, both of which saw revenue rise a median 21% year over year; office/clerical and industrial followed, up by 19% and 17%, respectively. No segments reported median year-over-year declines in revenue. Direct-hire revenue was up 55%.

Is the tight labor market easing? Recruiting difficulty has soared to record highs throughout 2021 while sales difficulty has been dropping to record lows, according to the year’s reports. However, the two metrics have converged to an extent in the November report, with sales difficulty increasing to 2.26 from 2.14 and recruiting difficulty decreasing to 3.63 from 3.88 (on a five-point scale). Both values are notably still below and above their respective historical values, but the narrowing convergence could be a sign that the tight labor market is loosening to an extent — which is good news for staffing buyers.

CWS Council members can download the November Pulse Survey Selected Findings report.