Workforce Week has a special report on contingent staffing. The short version - it's booming.
The American Staffing Association reported that 2010 Q2 staffing industry revenues were up 33% versus Q2 2009. Yes, 2009 was not a good year. But this is still impressive growth and the highest since the association started keeping track of this data in 1992.
This revenue translated into the staffing industry employing 2.4 million temporary workers per day in Q2.
According to the article, most in the staffing industry believe there has been a structural shift to contingent work. We agree. Key quote from the article:
In the U.S., the rising demand for contingent labor, while strongest in industrial jobs, has touched nearly every sector and includes higher-wage, skilled jobs .... “We think this increase in a blended workforce” of permanent and temporary employees will not decrease ... “The landscape has potentially changed for the foreseeable future.”
An interesting example of this shift is Caterpillar. Of the roughly 15,000 jobs they've added this year, 9,000 have been contingent.