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Labor Supply Down, Wages Up at Staffing Firms

Employment firms are feeling the effects of a labor supply and demand imbalance impacting the several industries they represent. 

One industry rocked by the current global labor shortage is health care, which has endured several negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years now.  

The pandemic has presented a challenge, particularly in the demand for critical care and nursing talent, according to Group President John Martins of Cross Country Healthcare. Those challenges, he told the Business Journal in an email, have varied widely across regions of the country.  

Cross Country Healthcare, a publicly traded medical staffing network, is No. 3 on the Business Journal’s list of staffing and employment firms.   

“Our clients continue to face unprecedented staff shortages, staff burnout from both the emotional and physical impacts of COVID, excessive patient assignments, cost cutting measures, as well as new rules that seem to be changing daily,” Martins wrote.  

Nick Sefayan, director of No. 2 ranked Global Service Resources, a health care and IT staffing firm, echoed Martins’ evaluation of the state of health care employment. He said the demand for health care workers has risen significantly, but the supply of workers is nothing like what it was before the pandemic.  

“We’re putting in more effort finding the right person (for the jobs needed),” Sefayan said. “We are thinking outside of the box as far as recruitment is concerned.”   

Another challenge for the temp staffing services that the firm offers derives from employees wanting more money. Sefayan said that employees want more than ever before but that clients, such as hospitals, pay less or the same amount of money as they did before the pandemic.  

“I don’t blame them asking for more money,” Sefayan said. “But at the same time, when we’re billing the client, they don’t want to pay more than they used to pay before the pandemic.”  

Martins of Cross Country wrote that his staffing firm addressed challenges through a pricing philosophy that was adopted early in the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The company’s approach is to provide clients with market analytics and consultation to help them determine the rates needed to attract the specialties to operate their facilities.  

“Equally important, we have been able to offer our Recruitment Process Outsourcing services to balance and reduce our clients’ reliance on temporary staff,” Martins wrote. “This is especially important for safety net hospitals who are dealing with population health issues.”  

Martins added that Cross Country has passed along the majority of the bill rate increases to its health care professionals to ensure the company could deliver assistance to its clients.

“As evidenced by our publicly reported gross margins, we passed along the vast majority of the bill rate increases to our health care professionals to ensure we could deliver the critical life-saving assistance our clients desperately needed,” Martins wrote.  

 

Escalating pay 

Equis Staffing, No. 8 on the Business Journal’s list, offers services for finance, accounting and IT professionals. The staffing agency has experienced similar obstacles to the medical staffing firms.   

Equis President Donna Farrugia said that not only is there a staff shortage, but a skill shortage. She added that Equis must stay on its toes when keeping track of developing vaccination requirements for its clients, as well as evolving pay expectations for employees at different skill levels.   

“I think the demand for talent is going to continue,” Farrugia said. “On the supply side, we’ve heard of everyone resigning, and everyone quitting their jobs, again, definitely impacting the supply side. So, I think we’re going to see more of an impact on supply than on demand.”  

Talent demand is also a trend acknowledged by No. 4 ranked Adecco USA, which covers finance, industrial, technical, legal, hospitality and other industries.  

Jordan Lewis, Addeco’s director of branches for Southern California and Hawaii, wrote to the Business Journal in an email that demand for talent is booming.  

“For the entire California market, it has been extremely busy with clients old and new, reaching out with order-heavy requests,” Lewis wrote. “With many people not re-engaging in the workforce, the challenges we are seeing amongst employers are around filling these roles, especially during this peak holiday season.”  

In the San Fernando Valley and across California, candidates have moved to other states with lower cost of living, according to Lewis.  

She added that to hire and retain talent, employers – particularly those in manufacturing and industrial – are increasing wages.

“If companies cannot raise wages, they are getting creative with other ways to incentivize talent, such as bonuses, flexibility and other perks,” she wrote. “Employers are becoming much more employee-centric.”   

Antonio Pequeño IV
Antonio Pequeño IV
Antonio “Tony” Pequeño IV is a reporter covering health care, finance and law for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. He specializes in reporting on some of the biggest names in the Valley’s biotechnology sector. In addition to his work with the Business Journal, Tony has reported with BuzzFeed News on the unsupervised use of Clearview AI, a controversial facial recognition technology. Tony, who also conducts freelance reporting, graduated from the USC’s Master of Science in Journalism program in 2021. He is in his fifth year as a journalist as of 2021.
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