Tags: Hatton | temp | jobs | low-wage

Temporary Work Dominates New Jobs

Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 07:52 AM

By Michael Kling

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Although more jobs are being created, many of them are low-paying temporary jobs offering no benefits and unreliable work, Erin Hatton, an assistant professor of sociology at the State University of New York, Buffalo, writes in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

More people are calling for bringing outsourced jobs back to America. But if those jobs come back as temp jobs, we won't be better off, argues Hatton, author of “The Temp Economy: From Kelly Girls to Permatemps in Postwar America.”

"If we want good jobs rather than just any jobs," writes Hatton, "we need to figure out how to preserve what is useful and innovative about temporary employment, while jettisoning the anti-worker ideology that has come to accompany it."

Editor's Note:
The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

Over the last three years, the temp industry added more jobs in the United States than did any other industry, she says, citing the American Staffing Association, a trade group. "Low-wage, temporary jobs have become so widespread that they threaten to become the norm."

Growing from humble origins, the temp industry has become a global behemoth, Hatton notes. Temp agencies initially marketed themselves as offering part-time, secretarial work to women who only wanted part-time employment. That strategy allowed them to create a sector of “low-wage, unreliable work right under the noses of powerful labor unions.”

"Even today ‘temp’ jobs are beyond the reach of many workplace protections, not only health benefits but also unemployment insurance, anti-discrimination laws and union-organizing rights," she notes.

"According to the temp industry, workers were just another capital investment; only the product of the labor had any value. The workers themselves were expendable," asserts Hatton.

“A growing number of people call for bringing outsourced jobs back to America,” she writes. “But if they return as shoddy, poverty-wage jobs … we won’t be better off for having them.”

The trend to temporary, or contingent workers, has led to unsafe working conditions and reduced corporate accountability, according to a new report from the Center for Progressive Reform.

"Their shared experience is one of little job security, low wages, minimal opportunities for advancement and, all too often, hazardous working conditions," the report states.

Because employers don't directly pay for workers' compensation and health insurance, they need not worry about increases in insurance premiums caused by workers' injuries.

As a result, employers have no incentive to eliminate hazards for other workers, according to the report, which recommends more OSHA regulations and oversight.

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

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