An interesting article in the Huffington Post pointed out the plight of temporary workers in the U.S. economy. Many temp workers receive minimum wage, receive inadequate housing, eat out of food banks and utilize publicly funded health care. Most of these workers never receive benefits and have little to no opportunity to advance.
That said, the reality is that temporary work has become an important part of our economy. Roughly 2.7 million Americans, according to the Labor Department, live provisional work as a reality. Not surprisingly, around one-fifth of overall job growth since mid- 2009 has been in the temporary work sector.
Most temporary jobs are in blue-collar work, in factories and warehouses, and over one in every 20 blue-collar workers was a temporary worker in 2013.
The attraction of temporary work, obviously, lies in the insulation it provides to companies. When a person is not hired as an employee, they cannot file workers’ compensation claims. This means the company saves unemployment taxes, avoids union drives and gets out of having to ensure employees are citizens or legal immigrants.
Temps, for their part, experience high injury rates, according to federal officials and research studies. Many of them have to deal with hours of unpaid waiting and pay fees that decrease their already meager earnings.
The increasing tendency of companies to use temp workers is increasing the economic rift between the rich and the poor, as temp workers earn an average of 25 percent less than permanent workers. That trend is likely to continue, economists predict, due to health-care reform, which will increase the costs of covering full time workers.
For those who experience harm while working, injury benefits are critical. With temp workers unable to access that lifeline, the challenges stemming from on-the-job injury are great.
Source: Huffington Post, “The Expendable: How The Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed,” Michael Grabell, June 27, 2013.