NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Temps Are Increasingly A Workforce Factor

June 25, 2002

No longer limited to secretarial and administrative positions, temporary workers can be found in just about every sector of the economy -- and all the way up and down the corporate ladder. Many labor specialists say they are the wave of the future.

  • Last month, 25,000 of the 41,000 new jobs added to the nation's economy went to temps -- at Fortune 500 companies as well as tiny firms.
  • The number of temporary workers employed in the U.S. more than doubled from 1992 to 2000 -- despite the strong economy during that time.

Temps may have helped keep the recent recession short and mild -- since employers were able to let them go as soon as demand slackened, and that reduced costs immediately. Some economists argue that a significant temporary workforce allows corporate America to the leaner, more flexible and more competitive.

Now businesses are hiring them again -- allowing for another rapid response to changing economic conditions.

Adding temporary employees to the workforce allows employers to test the personalities and skills of these workers with an eye to hiring them later on a permanent basis. Dismissing a temp doesn't affect employee morale the way dismissing regular employees does. On the other hand, using temps does nothing to increase employee loyalty to corporations.

Source: Margaret Webb Pressler, "A Workforce Divided," Washington Post, June 23, 2002.


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