Temp Jobs Up 22% While Overall Job Market Remains Flat



It’s generally been considered a sign of good things on the horizon when you hear about an increase in the number of temp jobs. These non-committal hires are usually a sign of employers tip-toeing back into a period of stability or even growth. That’s why the latest Labor Department numbers have some prognosticators scratching their heads.

According to the Labor Dept., temp jobs are now up over 22% from the same time last year. However, the overall job market has only grown by a minuscule 0.2% during the same period. While even minimal growth is still better than nothing, there is not usually such a lag between an increase in temp jobs and similar growth in the job market.

CNN discussed the issue with Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association:

In previous recessions, the overall job market rebound followed that of the temp industry by about six to 12 months, he said.

But it’s been 12 months since the temp industry started to pick up and there are still few signs of an overall jobs recovery.

Among the factors scaring off businesses from hiring, Wahlquist lists “mixed economic data, sweeping new financial and health care reforms and uncertainty about the expiring Bush tax cuts.”

Temp hiring is back. Is a jobs recovery next? [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. ElizabethD says:

    And that would be me. Lost my management job after decades with an organization. Now I’m on a 6-month contract with a different company. Hourly paid; no health insurance, no pension fund, no paid sick/vacation days. But I’m grateful to have anything at all. :-(

    • qwickone says:

      I know it’s not easy thing to have to be grateful about a relatively crappy situation. Try to keep your head up and good luck!

    • ARP says:

      Unfortunately, I think this will be the future of employment in the US sooner rather than later. We’ll have more and more contractors and fewer employees.

      • Tmoney02 says:

        ARP: I am afraid you are right. I can definitely see a future where there is a large class of temporary workers and it is a big deal to actually be hired by a company. Especially as cost (via govt. and other parties) to businesses to hire and keep employees rise.

        This is the case for many European Countries.

        For Japan one third of the work force is temp employees.

        Here is a qoute and story about them from NPR:
        “By international standards, published statistics for unemployment in Japan remain low, at less than 5 percent. And the hakenmura villages have not received massive numbers of poor and hungry people. But many Japanese feel that labor deregulation has widened the gap between rich and poor.

        Japan deregulated labor laws during the 1980s and 1990s, and temporary workers grew from one-sixth of the labor force in 1990 to one-third today. They often do the same jobs as regular workers but get less pay and fewer benefits. They are ineligible for unemployment insurance until they have worked 12 months at a single job. “

        NPR Story link:

      • mac-phisto says:

        well certainly, unless we do something about it. companies have been spending the last 60 years unwinding the damage that the AFL and CIO did to them in the beginning of the 20th century.

        now i’m not necessarily suggesting a return to unions, but i am suggesting we get our freakin’ act together & start fighting to keep some of those protections. otherwise, the middle class is going to be gone pretty damn soon.

  2. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Companies don’t have to worry about benefits with temps, and they can use them as long as they need them. It’s less of a financial commitment.

  3. framitz says:

    Many companies use contract to hire. I’m currently a contractor with a fortune 50 company. I am currently working to get full time employee status which will happen before the end of this year.

    It works good for me, I don’t really need benefits that are offered by my agency, being retired military, so I make more per paycheck.

    It’s actually a great way for companies to ‘try before you buy’.

    • kcvaliant says:

      Many companies use to use temps for hire. Now it is temps til their contract expire and get new temps. Generally from companies that nickle and dime their own employees for margin. But hey it makes the numbers look better so certain people can keep their 7figure bonus.

    • kcvaliant says:

      Many companies use to use temps for hire. Now it is temps til their contract expire and get new temps. Generally from companies that nickle and dime their own employees for margin. But hey it makes the numbers look better so certain people can keep their 7figure bonus.

    • TasteyCat says:

      I started in my current job as a temp. I was hired after a few months and have been there for years now. We still hire some temps, if the need for making somebody permanent arises. With the right company, there is certainly potential to move up if you can prove yourself.

  4. eccsame says:

    1) temps don’t get benefits, vacation time, sick leave, etc.
    2) Companies that are in a “hiring freeze” can usually hire temps to pick up the slack without too much red tape.
    3) Temps tend to work for less than a full-time, salaried employee.

  5. greed0179 says:

    This probably shouldn’t surprise anyone. With the market overwhelmed with application, sometimes the cost of a temp agency is worth its cost to weed out the qualified from the rest.

  6. Bativac says:

    My company has hired a small army of temps to handle some of the non-professional work, an upsurge of which was generated when we became a call center. The “pluses” are that the temps are hired thru an agency which presumably has run all the background checks, drug tests, etc. Also, no benefits, no vacation, and the company can pretty much drop them at will.

    The company is also moving to use temps for much of the professional work. Eventually we’ll all work for a virtual corporation with no physical headquarters and work as independent contractors or freelancers.

    • BettyCrocker says:

      And the service will suck.

      • Bativac says:

        Psst… the service ALREADY sucks. All the good employees are jumping ship! I’m out as soon as I find something else!

        • mac-phisto says:

          here’s hoping that’s real soon. i read a fascinating article in an industry journal the other day about how now is the time to seek great workers from other firms at discount prices. almost every company has slashed down to the bone, so great workers are taking on more duties without additional pay, their benefits have been cut & morale is in the shit can. simply offering better pay OR better benefits to a worker at a competing company will seal the deal.

          i highlighted the shit out of that & gave it to my boss. she said, “we’re not hiring right now.” i don’t think she fully understood the reason why i placed it on her desk.

    • ARP says:

      And you’ll make less money, you get no benefits (so will need to pay for them), no vacation, etc. Welcome to Coporatism- Tyrell and Weyland-Yutani aren’t far behind.

    • dolemite says:

      That sounds GREAT for health insurance and retirement. I’m sure the health of everyone in the US will improve too, not knowing if they will be able to make their mortgage payment month to month.

      Honestly, I used to think I’d love to be alive in 100 years to see what the future holds, but each day I hear about things like temps being the “wave of the future” or “health insurance just went up another 10%”, I think “Thank God I won’t be alive 60 years from now.”

  7. El_Fez says:

    Yup – welcome to 2010 where people are grateful to have ANYTHING. Permanent jobs are a thing of the past. Kiss those benefits goodbye – Heath insurance? Pension? Vacation days? Yeah, right – you’re lucky to get a paycheck, and you’ll LIKE it.

    • ARP says:

      This. Unfortunately.

    • Kid Notorious says:

      Well not with that attitude, Debbie Downer.

    • operator207 says:

      I hate to say this, but the earliest I realized there was no “work for one company until you retire” jobs out there was in the mid 90’s. The exact same with all your other statements. Your coming to the party 15 years (at least) too late.

      I am sure I didn’t realize it when it happened, I would imagine that it is most likely more that 15 years.

  8. momtimestwo says:

    I worked for several temp agencies back in the early 90’s, and it was kind of fun. I was single with no one to support but myself, so the lack of benefits didn’t bother me back then. I worked a variety of jobs, from office jobs, to an assembly line, to a “picker” in a book warehouse. What surprised me most was that I enjoyed the picking and packing warehouse jobs more then I thought I would. But I was also sent to hole in the wall places that I was too scared to work at.

  9. CountryJustice says:

    Add me to the ranks of the newly-Temp’ed. Of course, it (finally) came after some 18 months of being on the dole and a cross-country move, but hey, hard to complain. My pay rate is a little lower than what I was making at my last full-time job, and I get no benefits, but I’m getting double what UIB was paying, so there you go. I figure if I can learn to get by on a few hundred bucks a month from UIB, getting paid double that should work out somewhat well for me, at least in the short-term.

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I worked as a temp when I was unemployed. They sent me to this one place that made fancy bath products. Among other things, we stood around filling little bags with scented Epsom salts all day. What made it fun was they let us talk, and we had some great discussions while working.

    Also, when you went home at night your jeans smelled really good. I asked for them to send me back anytime they needed someone.

  11. Chellie says:

    Almost a decade ago I worked through a temp agency that offered pretty damn good health benefits once you worked so many hours with them. There was even an IRA offered, disability, etc. The pay wasn’t bad – I was single, had very few expenses, and shared an apartment with a roommate, so I didn’t need much, and at the time it worked very well for me.

    I doubt many agencies offer benefit packages anymore though. =/

  12. Mr_D says:

    Right after graduation, I was signed up at a temp agency. One temp assignment was at a hospital “operating some equipment”, which is as much as they would tell me. When I got there, turned out the equipment was a mop. That didn’t last long.

  13. Jevia says:

    Wow, so many people liking having temp jobs with no benefits, vacation, sick time, etc I bet the companies (their executives and stockholders) are loving it too. And people think we don’t need government to regulate such things? I suppose we’re lucky the government mandates a minimum wage (which a certain party keeps trying to lower).

    • Darury says:

      Seems like there’s another party that wants to continue to increase the available labor pool of unskilled workers by essentially removing any barriers to entry. Good thing that other party is around.. oh wait, they’re just as bad.

    • jesirose says:

      you might want to look into the research which shows how a minimum wage hurts workers.

  14. dolemite says:

    I kind of predict this is what the US is heading for. Very few will have stable long term jobs with “seniority” or anything…we all just hope that we can get work for a week, and hope Uncle Sam will take care of us when we retire. And all of the money that the middle class pumped into the economy will sit in the bank accounts of the richest 10% of America, indefinitely.

  15. OrlandoDude says:

    Is not anyone seeing the obvious? The government is constantly making it more and more costly and onerous to hire permanent employees. Who knows what the Democratic Health Care Law is going to bring?

    Get used to it. This is the wave of the future.
    “What? My temp called in sick today? Fine. Send a replacement.”
    I think it would be great time to own a Temp Agency. Thank you Government!

  16. wsupfoo says:

    Am I the only one who is looking at that graph and seeing temp hiring as leading the full time hiring in an upward trend? I realize its a small sampling, but other than scale (and you would expect full time to move less dramatically than temp) its pretty much what one would expect to see if temp is a leading indicator.

  17. DJSeanMac says:

    Pardon my french, Orlando, but your talking points are a bit politically skewed. If the country embraced fully rolling out socialized healthcare to the masses, businesses could eliminate this cost consideration from their hiring practices. Before you start, I’ll remind you we have socialized healthcare for our elderly – it’s called Medicare.

    And when the top marginal tax rates were at their highest, wealthy employers didn’t just shut down and head for foreign lands – they kept their money in their businesses. This encouraged a sharper eye for long-range planning and prosperity, preventing the short-sighted, grifter CEO model we currently suffer.

    And don’t get me started on the GOP completely ignoring the number one response to their voter outreach program: stop outsourcing jobs to other countries. The GOP has blocked all measures, carrot or stick, to encourage American businesses hiring American employees. It’s like this whole country is just one big mark for the con’ movement.

  18. claytons says:

    I was fairly abused and used by temp. agencies after moving to NYC following undergrad. A lot of agencies have a genuine interest in placing people in temp.-to-permanent positions, as they receive a lot of money when they do, but many are content to keep temps. as sort of indenturd servants.

  19. haggis for the soul says:

    I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing more temp/contract jobs in the future. Companies can keep their profits without committing to employees.