Since the end of the recession, 54 percent of new jobs created have been temp work
The fastest-growing sector of the labor market since the end of the recession says a lot about the type of sluggish recovery the economy is experiencing.
Coming out a recession, employers typically hire temporary employees first, then begin bringing on full-time staff. This time around was no different. In
"If you look at the bigger picture...we're moving toward a new reality in the way we work," says
Employers view the workforce as more flexible than in the past. It's expensive to lay off full-time employees during a slowdown then hire new ones when business recovers. So rather than take on a new batch of full-time employees, companies have opted to hire on a contingent basis. "Companies are migrating their workforce from 100 percent core down to 80 or 90 percent core, and then leaving 10 to 20 percent of their workforce as what I would call 'perpetual contractors' or 'definite temps' with no expectation to ever move those people back to their core workforce," says
In the past, the bulk of hiring in the temporary services industry was commercial hiring, in relatively low-paying industries like construction and manufacturing. But a fundamental shift is taking place, labor market experts say, because temporary jobs are popping up across all sectors of the economy. Even employers in high-skilled, well-paying industries such as engineering, information technology, accounting, and healthcare are taking on more contract workers.
"What we generally estimate, in terms of revenues or sales for the staffing industry as a whole, more than half of it now comes from professional, technical, and other high-skill, high-wage occupations," says
This shift to a larger contingent workforce is expected to continue.
In a June survey issued by the consulting firm
For the 14 million unemployed, temp work may provide a new path to a permanent job. In this slow recovery, many employers are choosing to hire new employees on a part-time basis before extending a permanent offer -- whether it's entry-level positions for workers who are fresh out of college or higher-level positions for workers who have been in the labor force for many years. "More and more staffing clients are saying they're turning to staffing firms as a way to find permanent help or permanent workers, so it's a way for both the employee and a business to evaluate each other to see if it's a good fit," says Berchem.
Long-term job stability may no longer be a reality for many workers, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. With a series of different assignments comes more flexibility, Berchem says, and many employees, especially from younger generations, prefer that. In a past ASA survey, 90 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their staffing firm and various aspects of their jobs, and 88 percent said they would refer a friend or relative to work as a temporary or contract employee.
During his 16-year professional career,
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