SBJ List: Two employment firms close

Maria Hoover, SBJ Features EditorFor many of the lists published by Springfield Business Journal each year, the information stays somewhat consistent. Big players maintain their upper-level perches much of the time, but watching movement among industry players is, to me, one of the things that makes the lists worth reading.

When Joyce Embree, our editorial researcher, began putting together the list of area employment firms, set for publication in our Aug. 16–22 print edition, she brought to our attention that one firm, Spherion, which ranked No. 10 in 2009, closed July 21, according to owner Damon Holland. Embree also found that Willstaff Worldwide, which ranked No. 9 in 2009, no longer has a local office, as it was sold in November 2009 to Advantage Staffing.

Employment firms build their businesses by putting people to work, and given that several sectors are still hard-hit by economic pressures, it’s not surprising that the 2010 version of the list showed several changes in comparison to 2009.

The state’s latest jobs report showed some positive statewide job growth of 3,600 nonfarm payroll jobs. and a June unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. While the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area is still faring better than the state in terms of unemployment, with a local unemployment rate of 8.4 percent, that’s actually a higher rate than the 7.9 percent Springfield MSA unemployment reported for May.

SBJ’s list of employment firms is ranked by local in-house employees, so workers placed with other employers aren’t considered for that purpose. The list data shows that Kelly Services has two local offices, down from three in 2009, but it moved up one spot to No. 2 by adding one in-house employee for a local total of eight. And Manpower Inc. now has two local offices, down from five last year.Data from Express Employment Professionals, which fell one spot on the list to No. 5 this year, gives some idea of the pressures facing placement firms nationwide. Express reports one local office, which is unchanged, but the company’s total number of offices fell to 501, down from 573 in August 2009.

Still, the list’s facts and figures don’t point only to gloom and doom.
For example Penmac Staffing Services Inc., holds on to its top spot on the list and has grown its corporate staff to 74, from 53 in 2009.While its total number of branches is unchanged at 29, the company reports 11 local offices this year, up from seven last year.

Penmac was honored in July with one of Springfield Business Journal’s Economic Impact Awards for businesses founded in 1980s. And company officials have said that as their business picks up, it provides a good barometer of economic improvement overall.

“This year has started out with a bang, which is great, because if we’re busy, that’s telling me that other businesses we’re partnered with are very busy too,” said Paula Adams, Penmac president and CEO, in the Economic Impact Awards publication.

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