• February 6, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

U.S. Contact Centers Added 50,000 New Jobs in 2014

Jobs4America, a coalition of business leaders committed to creating jobs in America, recorded 14,544 new U.S. contact center jobs created in the fourth quarter of 2014. For the year, the total was 49,569.

In the last half of 2014, the U.S. contact center industry created 3,839 more jobs than the total of new contact center jobs created anywhere else in the world, according to Matt Zemon, chairman of jobs4america and CEO of American Support, a contact center outsourcing firm based in Holy Hill, FL.

"For three quarters in a row, the American contact center industry continues to grow," Zemon said in a statement.

Jobs4america used data compiled by Dallas-based Site Selection Group, a location advisory and economic incentives firm specializing in call center site selection services.

Overall, the U.S. economic recovery has a lot to do with the contact center job scenario, says Jeff Sheehan, senior vice president at Site Selection Group.

"The economy is improving, and so we're seeing a lot of activity in domestic contact center growth," Sheehan says. "The U.S. is very busy right now."

A lot of the growth, he adds, is coming from contact center outsourcing firms, but some industry sectors, such as healthcare and insurance, are also growing their internal contact center operations.

Sheehan also notes that the growth is a combination of new job creation and onshoring of jobs that were previously outsourced overseas.

"We're seeing a lot of inquiries to reshore jobs, simply because the cost benefit of doing things overseas is diminishing," he says. "The gap with regard to labor costs [between U.S. and foreign markets, particularly in Asia] is getting a lot smaller."

Also adding to the onshoring trend is growing political pressure to bring jobs back to the U.S., according to Sheehan.

That is an area of emphasis for jobs4america. Founded in 2012, the organization has already created 176,000 new U.S.-based contact center jobs, exceeding its original goal of 100,000 new jobs. Jobs4america seeks to create another 100,000 new U.S. based contact center jobs by 2016.

Jobs4america singled out 10 firms that combined led to the creation of 6,592 U.S. contact center jobs. They were the following:

  • IBEX Global—1,000 new jobs;
  • Convergys—900 new jobs;
  • Unisys—700 new jobs;
  • APAC—682 new jobs;
  • Comcast—600 new jobs;
  • Teletech—600 new jobs;
  • AAA—580 new jobs;
  • Alliance Data Systems—530 new jobs;
  • Alorica, which recently acquired the agent services business of West—500 new jobs; and
  • Cognizant—500 new jobs.

Jobs4america also singled out 10 companies that closed down sites or downsized in 2014, resulting in a loss of 1,735 U.S. contact center jobs. They included the following:

  • Wingspan—300 jobs;
  • Assurion—232 jobs;
  • Sykes—200 jobs;
  • Corinthian Colleges—200 jobs;
  • Netflix—188 jobs;
  • Telerx—156 jobs;
  • Financial Management Solutions—130 jobs;
  • Verizon—117 jobs;
  • Sears—112 jobs; and
  • Living Social—100 jobs.

Sheehan has also noticed growth in the number of home-based agents working in the United States. The appeal, he says, is that companies can go outside of their normal employment markets to bring on the right people. "The whole world really is your oyster," he says.

Cost savings are another advantage to hiring home-based agents, but Sheehan cautions that not every company can successfully employ them. "You really have to be a well-structured company," he says.

Still, the home-based sector isn't a huge growth catalyst—at least not yet. "We're seeing more of an interest in it, but it's not going to change the world," Sheehan says.

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