The Dec. 8 editorial "In Praise of Temps" argued that temporary employment agencies have done more than government to account for today's low unemployment. Therefore the private sector can take care of placing unemployed skilled workers in jobs, and government can focus on training unskilled inner-city unemployed.

The strong economy of the past seven years has produced record low rates of unemployment, and the federal government must give all possible attention to hard-core unemployment. But the editorial minimized the effects of job-search and counseling programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Under President Clinton the economy has created 20 million jobs, but about 3 million workers still are displaced from their jobs each year. These workers often need training that temp agencies do not provide. And much evidence shows that federal reemployment programs have hastened the process of getting these workers back to work at good wages.

Temp agencies account for only one percent of all jobs in our economy. The Post concluded that the Department of Labor's greatest efforts should focus on unskilled workers and inner-city unemployment, but while we address those urgent needs, we cannot ignore displaced workers. We must continue to meet both challenges.

ALEXIS M. HERMAN

Secretary

U.S. Department of Labor

Washington