Thursday, December 13, 2007

Service jobs - Administrative and Support

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services

This sector has two parts: the administrative and support part and the waste management and remediation part. Employment in the first part nearly doubled from 1990 to 2007 reaching 8.0 million in 2007, but dropped over a million jobs in the 2008-2010 recession years before recovering to 7.6 million in 2012. The waste management and remediation remains small with only 372.7 thousand jobs. Combined they are 8.03 million jobs in 2012.

Administrative and Support

In the NAICS documentation manual, administrative and support firms perform routine support activities for day-to-day operations of other businesses on a contract or fee basis. The definition does not tell us what companies in this sector actually do. The answer is lots of things. If I were going to work in this sector I would definitely pick a job in a travel agency. I can picture myself relaxing in a cheery office full of travel posters offering a witty patter of conversation describing sunny Caribbean tour sites. Pick your favorite! There are so many choices. Try a job in contracted office administration, facilities support services, employment placement, temporary help services, desktop publishing, word processing, telephone call centers, telephone answering services, telemarketing bureaus, copy centers, private mail centers, collection agencies, credit bureaus, repossession companies, court reporter companies, travel agencies, tour operators, convention bureau services, ticket services, investigation services, armored car services, security guards and patrol services, security systems companies, exterminating companies, pest control companies, janitorial service companies, landscaping companies, carpet and upholstery cleaning services, chimney sweep companies, packaging and labeling services, convention and trade show organizers, and a few more, but I am out of breath.

Administrative and Support establishments sell almost everything they do to other establishments on a contract or fee basis and not to final consumers, and they generally sell a combination of one or more support services. Travel agencies and some travel and tour companies are the only exception. Otherwise services in this sub sector support other firms by performing contracted activities with performance criteria carried out during a contract period. Establishment managers who are thinking of out sourcing a function like office administration are thinking of another firm taking over complicated and distracting financial planning, billing, record keeping or logistics that are not a part of their real business. Having a firm concentrate on a core business is a favorite selling point in outsourcing firms, an industry where outsource firms actively promote outsourcing as a good idea. Selling outsourcing to prospective clients requires a combination of convenience and cost saving.

Outsourcing of work reached a high of 8 million jobs in 2007 only to drop a million jobs in the recessionary years. Outsourcing office administration mentioned above continued to grow through the 2008-2009 recession generating 215.2 thousand new jobs between 1990 and 2012 at a growth rate triple the non-farm average. Establishments that outsource facilities support service provide operating staff to perform a combination of building services such as janitorial services, laundry, maintenance, security, and landscaping. Employment in facilities support services more than doubled to 125.8 thousand since 1990.

Employment in other support services lagged in the recession years, but started to recover in 2010. Telephone call centers including telemarketing service have 451.2 thousand jobs in 2012, an all time high and well above the 266 thousand jobs reported in 1990. Landscaping employment has 637.5 thousand jobs, which is down from its high of 682 thousand, but more than doubled the jobs from 1990. Collection agencies continue doing a booming business because employment continues to grow with 143.6 thousand jobs in 2012 compared to 68 thousand in 1990. Investigation and security services jobs reached a high of 818.4 thousand jobs in 2012 up 311.3 thousand since 1990.

Employment services have more instability. Employment service jobs have three sub sectors: employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations. Their combined employment reached a high of 3.7 million in 2006, but dropped back to 3.15 million 2012 as part of cyclical decline from the recession.

The NAICS manual explains that employment placement services list employment vacancies and refer applicants. Temporary help establishments supply their employees to supplement the work force of a client, but the client must supervise their work. Professional employer organizations “typically acquire and lease back some or all of the employees of their clients and serve as the employer of the leased employees for payroll, benefits, and related purposes.”

A system of outsourcing employment generates a cycle of bidding for contracts for landscaping, security services, janitorial services and also with temporary help services bidding directly for available work. Custodians, for example, work for contracting firms that constantly bid new contracts. Contracts tend to be one to three years, but allow cancellation on 30 days notice. It is labor intensive work. Seventy five to eighty percent of total costs come from wage costs and the contractor with the low bid is likely to be the one that pays the lowest wage. The more rapid adjustment of labor to the ebb and tide of business may save business costs, but much of the savings appears to be more from lower wages and higher unemployment costs for both workers and the government than to productivity changes for outsourced work.

Waste Management and Remediation Services

The second part of this sector is simple. It is trash. We can be confidant people at waste management firms are not talkin’ trash, but otherwise they are collecting, hauling and dumping trash. Some of the trash is ordinary trash and some of the trash is hazardous trash. Firms also do trash disposal or trash disposal with treatment. Disposal is storing trash in a landfill, or burning trash in a combustor, or incinerator. Treatment is remediation, which is sorting for recycling, or cleanup of contaminated sites, soil or groundwater. Establishments in this sub sector do septic pumping or rent portable toilets. Employment in waste management and remediation services totaled 372.7 thousand in 2012, up from 229.4 thousand in 1990.

The occupations here are mostly driving; they tend to be outdoors and involve some measure of physical labor. Outside of management few jobs need college degree training. A little over 13 percent of jobs are truck drivers and equipment operators. Another 20 percent are refuse and recyclables collectors and hazardous material removal workers.

With a 115.3 million service jobs to divvy up, administrative support and waste management and remediation services employment gives us 8.01 million jobs, but that is only 6.0 percent of establishment employment. Administrative support and waste management and remediation service employment is growing faster than the national rate. We have to expect a relative increase in administrative support and waste management in national employment. We only have 4 sectors left to go, but 23.6 million service jobs left to fill.


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