Temped Out: How the Domestic Outsourcing of Blue-Collar Jobs Harms America’s Workers

Source: Rebecca Smith, Claire McKenna, National Employment Law Project and National Staffing Workers Alliance, September, 2014

From the press release:
There are a record high 2.8 million temporary help jobs in today’s economy, making up 2 percent of total employment, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project.

The report, Temped Out: How The Domestic Outsourcing of Blue-Collar Jobs Harms America’s Workers, examines the employment services industry, which includes temporary help agencies (also called staffing agencies), professional employer organizations and employment placement agencies. It finds that as a whole, the industry represents 2.5 percent of all jobs, up from 1.4 percent in 1990. More than 12 million people flowed into and out of a staffing agency in 2013 alone.

America’s staffing industry has also shifted its reach to new sectors like manufacturing and warehousing. The use of third-party staffing agencies creates a layered employment structure that empowers the client-employers at the top and puts downward pressure on staffing agencies in the middle competing for contracts. Many of those agencies in turn keep costs low by cutting corners on pay and safety for workers. In fact, staffing workers’ median hourly wages are 22 percent lower than wages of all private-sector workers.

… “Temp work” is becoming a misnomer—with many workers in “temporary jobs” for months or years, doing the same work as their direct-hire counterparts, but for lower pay, few benefits, and no job security. When staffing workers lose their jobs, arcane rules keep many from receiving the benefits to which other unemployed workers are entitled. …