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Are we becoming a nation of temporary workers? Maybe not yet. But new staggering numbers reported in June by the Labor Department suggests there are more temp workers than ever making something of a living: 2.7 million of them.
What’s that mean?
These workers are among our country’s most vulnerable, for starters, because many work long hours — or multiple jobs — and often go without health insurance.
Overall, almost one-fifth of the total job growth since the recession ended in mid-2009 has been in the temp sector, federal data shows. But according to the American Staffing Association, the temp industry’s trade group, the pool is even larger: Every year, a tenth of all U.S. workers finds a job at a staffing agency.
The proportion of temp workers in the labor force reached its peak in early 2000 before the 2001 slump and then the Great Recession. But as the economy continues its slow, uneven recovery, temp work is roaring back 10 times faster than private-sector employment as a whole — a pace “exceeding even the dramatic run-up of the early 1990s,” according to the staffing association.
“We’re seeing just more and more industries using business models that attempt to change the employment relationship or obscure the employment relationship,” the Labor Department’s Mary Beth Maxwell told ProPublica. “In the last 10 to 15 years, there’s just a big shift to this for a lot more workers — which makes them a lot more vulnerable.”
Read more at Pro Publica.