Bringing the Economy Home

What We’re Reading: “How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed”

Nearly one-fifth of the total post-recession job growth falls into the temporary worker category. That’s according to an in-depth investigation by ProPublica.

Their article dubbed, “The Expendables”, takes a closer look at where temp jobs are on the rise, what’s causing the increase, and how temp work affects those jobholders.

Across America, temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy, leading to the proliferation of what researchers have begun to call “temp towns.” They are often dense Latino neighborhoods teeming with temp agencies. Or they are cities where it has become nearly impossible even for whites and African-Americans with vocational training to find factory and warehouse work without first being directed to a temp firm. – ProPublica

ProPublica reports the U.S. reached a peak in temp workers last month. Nearly 2.7 million Americans work a temp job. An industry trade group says there are even more people working temp jobs.

In Idaho, nearly 9,700 people, or 1.25 percent of the labor force, worked for a temp agency in 2012. That’s according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Since 2002, the number of Idahoans working for temp agencies has fluctuated. It peaked in 2005 with more than 12,000 workers.

In places with significant manufacturing or factory work, ProPublica writes companies are now choosing to hire temps rather than bring on full-time, benefited employees.

The rise of the blue-collar permatemp helps explain one of the most troubling aspects of the phlegmatic recovery. Despite a soaring stock market and steady economic growth, many workers are returning to temporary or part-time jobs. This trend is intensifying America’s decades-long rise in income inequality, in which low- and middle-income workers have seen their real wages stagnate or decline. On average, temps earn 25 percent less than permanent workers.

Many economists predict the growth of temp work will continue beyond the recession, in part because of health-care reform, which some economists say will lead employers to hire temps to avoid the costs of covering full-time workers. – ProPublica

You can read the full article from ProPublica here.


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