Las Vegas Sun

September 30, 2014

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Looking in on: Business:

Early indicator — temp jobs — shows signs of a recovery

Temporary employment is on the rise in Las Vegas, a development some economists see as a possible early indicator of economic recovery.

Temp agency Manpower Las Vegas saw a 20 percent increase in placements during July and August, according to Evon Stevenson, director of business development for its professional division. The company didn’t release more detailed figures because of client confidentiality.

“They’re ordering more folks,” she said. “It’s a recovery, (but) it’s going to be slow but steady.”

Manpower and other major staffing agencies have had seven consecutive weeks of growth since the end of June, the longest stretch in 21 months, according to an analysis by the American Staffing Association.

In Las Vegas, Manpower has divisions in traditional and professional services, such as administrative, industrial and light industrial. The company also provides workers for conventions.

“Staffing agencies are the first to feel (an economy) on the rebound, and the first to feel it on a decline,” Stevenson said.

Las Vegas’ jobless rate has nearly doubled in the past year, clocking in at 13.1 percent in July.

There are two factors potentially at play, said Brian Gordon, principal at Applied Analysis, an economic consulting firm.

One is that employers are starting to see increased demand and are seeking temporary workers as they feel out the market. Another reason might be that when companies laid off employees, they let too many go and are now short-handed, he said.

•••

Love it or hate it, Southwest Airlines’ new EarlyBird Check-In program isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

One week after the Dallas-based carrier, the busiest operator at McCarran International Airport, unveiled the program, which enables Southwest customers to buy their way to a better boarding position, airline officials say they’re happy with the initial response the program has received.

“Our customers are responding very well to it,” Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said without providing any numbers as to how many passengers have paid the additional $10 per flight to get the upgraded boarding position. (Southwest Airlines has an open-seating policy.)

When Southwest announced the program, customers unloaded on EarlyBird on the airline’s blog, Nuts About Southwest. Most of the criticism centered on Southwest’s not limiting the number of EarlyBird check-ins sold. Others resented being shoved down the boarding pecking order by people who can buy their way to a higher place in line.

But Hawkins said he thinks the comments are coming from a vocal minority and that Southwest has no plans to back off from the program, which began Sept. 3.

•••

In Business Las Vegas’ annual survey of commercial real estate brokerages shows a shake-up in the ranking.

CB Richard Ellis lost its top spot, falling to fourth as total sales and lease activity fell from $3.16 billion in July 2007-June 2008 to $216 million in July 2008-June 2009 — a 93 percent decline.

Colliers International jumped from second to first with $423.6 million in sales and lease activity despite a drop in transactions of 81 percent from July 2007-June 2008 to July 2008-June 2009. It was $2.24 billion a year ago.

The drop in volume, analysts said, is simply a function of the marketplace. The oversupply of office, retail and industrial space and the lack of financing have stifled sales and new development.

“We have seen this trend for residential real estate with Realtors and mortgage brokers, and now this concept translates into the commercial sector as well,” said Brian Gordon, a principal at research firm Applied Analysis. “The current climate in the commercial sector is challenging, and I suspect it won’t correct itself overnight.”

Commerce CRG moved from fifth place to second with $270 million in activity, down 32 percent from $398 million. Grubb & Ellis rose to third with $217.6 million in activity, down from $411.5 million in last year’s survey. R.O.I. Commercial Real Estate rounded out the top five with $97.5 million in activity, down from $263.3 million a year ago. It was eighth on last year’s list.

For the most part, the brokerages haven’t been as hurt by leasing activity as by the drop-off of sales, analysts said.

Versions of these stories appear in this week’s In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication of the Sun.

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