Staffing levels are slowly increasing, said the American Staffing Association’s January 2010 index report. Even better, hiring appears to be on the rise in the Pikes Peak region.

The national trade organization found that staffing employment was 4 percent higher for January than during the same month a year ago. That news was especially significant because the first month of the year is traditionally the slowest for staffing.

Leading up to this month’s report, ASA said employment saw a typical sharp drop during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks, and the index reflected that pattern.  During the week of Dec. 14, staffing employment fell 1.29 percent, dropping the index one point to 86. The following two weeks, staffing saw large consecutive declines of more than 10 percent, pushing the index down to 69 the week of Dec. 28. The week of Jan. 4, the staffing employment rose sharply by 12.4 percent, boosting the index up to 78. Staffing employment increased modestly — 1.52 percent — the next week, Jan. 11–17, raising the index one point to 79.

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Cari Shaffer, Addstaff founder and owner, said her company has begun to see signs of increased hiring as well.

“Our first weeks of the year have been very good, especially considering that some manufacturers and other companies actually close for the holidays,” she said.

She also said that, since the recession began, people looking for work in the Pikes Peak region were primarily leaving one job for another — and not because new positions have been added.

Even so, during the first weeks of the year, the company was able to complete two direct-hires, a true accomplishment after many months of slow hiring activity.

“We have a very deep client base – and many of those companies haven’t been calling much lately. Suddenly, however, we’re beginning to hear from some of them. That’s unusual, but I’m not complaining,” she said.

Shaffer warned against being too optimistic. “I wouldn’t want to mislead our job seekers or our staff. Things seem to be improving, but it’s still tough out there.”