Hiring Of Temp Workers On The Rise

Compiled By CityTownInfo.com Staff
December 22, 2009

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 52,000 temporary workers were hired last month, more than the number of new employees in any other category.

The New York Times reports that the surge in temp hiring is both good news and bad: Temp workers do earn wages and help bring down the overall unemployment rate. However, since employers are still reluctant to offer permanent positions to workers, temps are less likely to spend as freely as regular employees or to qualify for credit.

"When a job comes open now, our members fill it with a temp, or they extend a part-timer's hours, or they bring in a freelancer," said William J. Dennis Jr., director of research for the National Federation of Independent Business, who was quoted in the Times. "And then they wait to see what will happen next."

Some claim that temporary hiring is a positive trend. The South Florida Business Journal reports that a new study conducted by the University of Florida found that workers hired by temp agencies earn higher hourly wages and are better educated than permanent employees.

"There has been concern by some advocacy groups that the temporary help industry is creating an entire class of people who are churning through temporary-help jobs and can't escape from that cycle," noted Sarah Hamersma, a UF economist and one of the authors of the report, who was quoted in a press release. "We find no reason to believe that a large number of temp workers are 'stuck' in a secondary labor market."

Similarly, some say that temporary employment may very well be a path to a permanent position. "It's a great way to get your face out there," explained Lori Luba, manager of the Pittsburgh branch of Robert Half International, who was quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If a company is looking at two candidates with similar backgrounds and the only difference is that one has not been working at all for the past eight months and the other has been taking temporary assignment, they'll want the candidate who has been working. It shows initiative."

But the Times paints a different picture: When Eggrock, a company which makes prefabricated bathrooms in Massachusetts, received a large order from a hospital in Canada, the company opted to hire 40 temps rather than rehire from among the 35 workers laid off last year.

"The biggest factor in prompting us to shift from temps to permanent employees would be a solid order backlog," explained Phillip Littlefield, the company's vice president, who was quoted in the Times. So far, he said, that backlog has not materialized.

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