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4 Stocks to Tap Growth Opportunities in the Staffing Market

Shuvra Shankar Dey
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The U.S. labor market witnessed record-low unemployment level and strong job additions in April. Furthermore, Americans filing for unemployment benefits are below the 300,000 threshold for the 169th consecutive week, the longest streak since 1969.

With job additions staying strong driven by a business-friendly tax reform, staffing companies stand to gain the most.

Record Low Unemployment, Wage Growth Modest

In April, the unemployment rate was down to 3.9%, marking an 18-year low, despite an increase in wage gains.

Meanwhile, U6, the most rigorous metric of unemployment in the United States, declined to 7.8%, its lowest since July 2001. This measure takes into account individuals who are not searching for employment or those who are working part-time since they cannot secure full-time employment.

Although a tighter labor market is leading to better wage growth, it remains below long-run averages. Average hourly earnings in April increased 4 cents to $26.86, registering only a 2.6% year-over-year increase, lower than 2.7% witnessed in March.

Strong Recruitment Trend

The United States added 164,000 jobs in April, significantly higher than 103,000 in March. The average pace of job additions was 202,000 per month during the first quarter, significantly faster than the average gains registered over the last two years. Payrolls were added for 91 straight months, the longest streak since the Labor Department started tracking this data in the 1940s.

While the economy continues to create new jobs in spite of an 18-year low jobless rate, a tight labor market is compelling companies to pay higher to attract and retain employees.

At the forefront of jobs gains last month was professional and business services that added 54,000 jobs. Education and health services added 31,000 jobs. Job additions in manufacturing and construction were 24,000 and 17,000 respectively. Mining added 8,000 jobs.

The labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio were 62.8% and 60.3%, respectively, a marginal change from March.

Growth Expected Through 2018

The labor market remains strong, as it has been during most of the economic expansion that started in mid-2009. Broadly, the Trump administration’s business friendly approach, a strong U.S. economy, reduced tax rates, robust manufacturing and non-manufacturing activity and higher government spending should support additional hiring and wage gains this year.

Per a new industry forecast by Staffing Industry Analysts, U.S. staffing market revenues (includes temporary staffing and place and search) are anticipated to go up by 4% in 2018 to $150 billion. The forecast is an upward revision from the previous expectation of 3% growth. It indicates decent growth considering the fact that the expansion cycle has matured.

Our Choices

Solid macroeconomic fundamentals along with government’s tax reform are the major tailwinds for the U.S. labor market are likely to continue in the near term.

The buoyancy in the staffing space is further confirmed by its solid Zacks Industry Rank in the top 39% (99 out of 256), indicating continued hiring and more job opportunities.

The Business Services Sector has been a strong performer, gaining 22.9% in a year, outperforming the S&P 500 index’s 11.8% gain.

So, adding staffing stocks to your portfolio makes great sense at this point. However, picking winning stocks can be a difficult task.

We have narrowed down our search to the following stocks, each of which has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and a solid expected earnings growth rate for the year. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. HSII is a provider of executive search, culture shaping, and leadership consulting services. It currently sports a Zacks Rank #1.

The company expects earnings growth of 66.1% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year improved 17.5% in the last 60 days.

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. Quote

Insperity Inc. NSP is engaged in providing an array of human resources and business solutions. It also sports a Zacks Rank #1.

The company expects earnings growth of 39.2% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year improved 12.2% over the last 60 days.

Insperity, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Insperity, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Insperity, Inc. Quote

Kforce, Inc. KFRC is a professional staffing services firm. It carries a Zacks Rank #2.

The company has expected earnings growth rate of 40.1%for the current year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year improved 3.3% in the last 60 days.

Kforce, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Kforce, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Kforce, Inc. Quote

Robert Half International Inc. RHI is one of the largest human resource consulting firms in the United States. It carries a Zacks Rank #2.

The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 29.6%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year improved 4.3% in the last 60 days.

Robert Half International Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Robert Half International Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Robert Half International Inc. Quote

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Robert Half International Inc. (RHI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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