Afternoon Coffee: Kelly Services and Business Talent Group Team Up on Gig Economy, New Trade Numbers Show Gap Widens Stock

Kelly Services announced Wednesday it has taken a minority stake in Business Talent Group, in a bid to fill an expected shortfall in the gig economy that serves top companies with BTG’s pool of on-demand consultants, experts and executives, the firms announced this week.

BTG blends proprietary technology and talent data with an in-house team to select and deliver the right specialized independent talent to the Fortune 1000. By delivering curated, vetted and legally compliant talent and by advising firms on how to launch their own on-demand talent programs, BTG helps companies integrate high-end independent talent into their business strategy, planning and execution.

Kelly’s investment in BTG will help companies build agile workforces and access hard-to-find skills, the firms said in a press release. McKinsey predicts a global shortfall of up to 40 million high-skill workers by 2020.

Kelly Services, the lead investor in BTG’s Series C funding, said BTG was a natural fit for Kelly.

“Companies adapting to the new world of work know they need to understand how skilled talent actually want to work if they are to compete successfully in their specific marketplaces,” said Teresa Carroll, executive vice president of Kelly Services, in the release.

New U.S. Trade Numbers Show Gap Widens 

U.S. trade figures released Thursday show the trade gap widened, and the reaction has been to downgrade estimates for GDP growth and to further gauge the effects of President Donald Trump’s tariffs, according to a Bloomberg report.

The merchandise-trade deficit unexpectedly grew in August to $75.8 billion, the widest in six months and close to a record, as exports of food, industrial supplies and autos declined, Commerce Department data showed. A separate report from the department signaled corporate investment took a breather, with business-equipment orders at U.S. factories falling in August following a run of strong gains, while shipments of those items slowed, Bloomberg reported.

The U.S. and China imposed tariffs on each other in late August, which followed others begun in July. The U.S. added tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese imports this week — the largest escalation of the trade war so far, Bloomberg said.

Home Depot’s Home Delivery

Home Depot announced it now has express same-day and next-day local delivery for more than 20,000 of its most popular items in 35 major metros across the U.S. The new service is part of the company's overall five-year expansion of its delivery offerings for DIY and Pro customers.

A company press release said Home Depot is partnering with car and van providers like Roadie and Deliv to offer the new delivery options for smaller items, while continuing to expand its supply chain network for faster shipments of large bulk deliveries.

Fed Rates Rise

And finally, a credit update: The Federal Reserve raised the target range for the federal funds rate, which now sits between 2% and 2.25%, with another increase possible in December, Forbes reports. While the rate hike was expected, the Fed’s removal of the word “accommodative” from its guidance signaled a less cautious approach to monetary policy going forward.

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