Analyzes national data on all temporary employment orders at a large staffing company from 2007 to 2011 to determine the characteristics of temporary employment during and just after the recession; includes information about the sectors that used temporary employees, temporary employment wages, assignment lengths and outcomes; and provides comparisons between temporary and permanent employment. 

“In this paper, [the authors] draw on detailed data from a large, nationally representative staffing company on its temporary help orders between 2007 and 2011, a time period that spans the year prior to the start of the recession through the initial years of recovery” to analyze temporary employment, or employment that is expected to be time-limited (p.1-2). “[The] data yield a number of insights into the characteristics of temporary help work, including the distribution of wages and assignment lengths, number of assignments individuals hold, the likelihood of securing a permanent job with the client company, and the incidence of and reasons for termination prior to assignment completion” (p.2).

The data drawn “include information on all orders (temporary work assignments) with private and public sector organizations [in the United States]….These order-level data include information on more than 800 job classifications organized into 13 broader occupational categories, the start and end date of each order, pay and hours for each calendar year in which an individual worked on an order, individual identification number and birth date, location…of the branch placing each order, detailed classification of outcomes of the order…, and the type of order….The data set used in the analyses…includes more than 1.8 million orders” (p.7-8).

Even though “the temporary help industry accounts for about 2 percent of average daily employment in the U.S. economy…[it] plays an outsized role in workforce adjustment during recessions and recoveries. During the last recession…employment in the temporary help industry contracted by 30 percent and accounted for 11 percent of net employment losses economy-wide. Correspondingly, the temporary help industry has accounted for over 13 percent of net employment gains since the official end of the recession in June 2009. The large role that this small industry plays in the macro economy reflects the fact that, over the past two decades, employers have increasingly relied on temporary help agencies to provide greater flexibility in meeting their staffing needs. During this time, the industry…has expanded the types of workers it supplies to companies” (p.1). The authors explain that their research offers “insights into the dynamics of temporary help employment in recession and recovery” as well as a better understanding of temporary help work in general (p.2).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)