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Companies Hiring More Temporary Employees

By Yaffa Klugerman
November 11, 2009

Temporary hires increased significantly last month, prompting speculation that permanent hiring will soon be on the rise as well.

The Labor Department reported last week that 44,000 temporary jobs were added since July, including 34,000 last month alone. The number is precisely the same amount of temp jobs lost between January 2008 and July 2009.

"Most companies have cut their head count back so far that they don't have extra help," explained Tom Darrow of Talent Connections in Atlanta, who was interviewed by 11 Alive. "And all of a sudden some projects are coming along, they're starting to ramp back up and they need the help."

Darrow told 11 Alive that employers are hiring temporary workers because they are being cautious about offering permanent positions. "It saves them money in the long term," he noted. "They don't have to pay benefits for contractors or temporaries. They can try them out before they hire them full time."

The Wall Street Journal points out another benefit of hiring temps: If their employment ends, it's less devastating to staff than laying off permanent workers. "It has a much smaller effect on the morale of your permanent staff," noted Jeffrey Wenger, associate professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia, who was quoted in the Journal.

Economists noted that a rise in temporary hires could signal the beginning of an increase in overall employment. "This is a way for companies to dip their toes in the water," explained Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse in New York, who was quoted by Bloomberg.com. "If firms are willing to do that, it tells you that they're feeling a little better about their business prospects, and that's the beginning of something."

But temporary jobs can be demanding, reports the Chicago Tribune: Because budgets are so tight at companies, temps are often required to perform the duties of several different employees.

"They want a receptionist who's also an administrator and answering the phone and making the coffee," said Daphne Dolan, managing partner at City Staffing, who was interviewed by the Tribune. "They want hybrid people."

According to Joy Moore, a career coach in Albuquerque, New Mexico who was interviewed by the Journal, many job seekers don't consider temporary work because they are determined to find permanent positions. They also falsely assume that temporary jobs are for low level work.

But such assumptions are untrue, said Moore, and temporary work is "definitely an area people should be looking at."

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