As companies struggle to cut costs while still meeting customer demands, many have stumbled upon the latest growing trend — the temporary worker. The latest federal data shows that 2.3 million people held temporary jobs in March, up from a low in mid-2009 of 1.7 million. According to a recent report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, temporary workers are usually paid less than full-time workers. They are also less likely to have benefits such as health insurance or retirement benefits, or be protected by labor laws. With most temporary workers receiving less pay and less or even no benefits, the plus side for companies is clearly the bottom line. But this impacts the taxpayer and the healthcare system in general. Since these workers do not have health insurance they often rely on emergency room treatment or Medicaid, treatment scenarios in which the costs are largely covered by the public, adding to the taxpayer burden.

This flexibility may be good for business, but it’s not good for the full-time job employee and those looking for full-time jobs. The latest federal statistics show more than 8 million workers are involuntarily employed as part-time staff members. Many are working at temporary agencies. Labor experts warn that temporary employment doesn’t inspire devotion to the job or loyalty to the employer.

A New School of Thought

The disappearance of benefits and job security are part of a larger trend in which work has become increasingly informal. According to a survey of more than 1,000 universities, the institutions are now employing more part-time professors than ever before. These instructors are not on the tenure track. In the past three years, the number of tenure-track university jobs in America, which provide greater economic security and academic freedom, decreased by 4 percent while non-tenure track faculty hires rose 8 percent. Non-tenure track positions now comprise about 75 percent of faculty, a notable increase from the 66 percent registered in a 1995 survey.

The trend has created a noticeable income gap among faculty members. At public colleges and universities, the average salary for a tenured professor was $118,054, while it was $69,777 for an assistant professor.

Temps vs. Outsourcing

Academia isn’t the only field experiencing the on slot of temporary workers. The legal profession has also been impacted. Rather than maintaining a cadre of expensive lower-level legal help, law firms are increasingly outsourcing tasks to locations abroad to countries like India. A report by ValueNotes, a research company in India, found that the number of Indian firms offering legal related services has nearly tripled, in the past five years, and is expected to have $1.1 billion in revenues by 2014.

In January, San Francisco law firm Morrison & Foerster said in its annual “Global Sourcing Trends for 2011” report that legal services outsourcing had expanded significantly in 2010, as law firms and corporate law departments struggle to cut costs.

Domestically, the Staffing Industry Analysts estimates that temporary legal industry hiring — as measured by revenues — plummeted by 40 percent from 2008 to 2009. That contrasted with a 6 percent increase from 2007 to 2008. That plunge was greater than decreases in any other types of hiring, including information technology temps — where revenues for agencies fell 20 percent, or half as much, as those for legal temps.
But it’s not just law firms, according to recent U.S. Commerce Department figures, that are sending work abroad so consistently that it appears unlikely these jobs will ever return to the United States. Over the past decade, major American companies have cut their domestic ranks by 2.9 million while adding 2.4 million jobs overseas, according to federal data.

Temp jobs: Is there a path to permanence?

For now, temporary hiring is leading the pack when it comes to job growth. A recent survey of client companies suggested tepid workforce growth over the next two years and an increase in the overall share that temporary workers make up in the American labor pool.

As companies struggle to cut costs while still meeting customer demands, many have stumbled upon the latest growing trend — the temporary worker. The latest federal data shows that 2.3 million people held temporary jobs in March, up from a low in mid-2009 of 1.7 million. According to a recent report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, temporary workers are usually paid less than full-time workers. They are also less likely to have benefits such as health insurance or retirement benefits, or be protected by labor laws. With most temporary workers receiving less pay and less or even no benefits, the plus side for companies is clearly the bottom line. But this impacts the taxpayer and the healthcare system in general. Since these workers do not have health insurance they often rely on emergency room treatment or Medicaid, treatment scenarios in which the costs are largely covered by the public, adding to the taxpayer burden.

This flexibility may be good for business, but it’s not good for the full-time job employee and those looking for full-time jobs. The latest federal statistics show more than 8 million workers are involuntarily employed as part-time staff members. Many are working at temporary agencies. Labor experts warn that temporary employment doesn’t inspire devotion to the job or loyalty to the employer.

A New School of Thought

The disappearance of benefits and job security are part of a larger trend in which work has become increasingly informal. According to a survey of more than 1,000 universities, the institutions are now employing more part-time professors than ever before. These instructors are not on the tenure track. In the past three years, the number of tenure-track university jobs in America, which provide greater economic security and academic freedom, decreased by 4 percent while non-tenure track faculty hires rose 8 percent. Non-tenure track positions now comprise about 75 percent of faculty, a notable increase from the 66 percent registered in a 1995 survey.

The trend has created a noticeable income gap among faculty members. At public colleges and universities, the average salary for a tenured professor was $118,054, while it was $69,777 for an assistant professor.

Temps vs. Outsourcing

Academia isn’t the only field experiencing the on slot of temporary workers. The legal profession has also been impacted. Rather than maintaining a cadre of expensive lower-level legal help, law firms are increasingly outsourcing tasks to locations abroad to countries like India. A report by ValueNotes, a research company in India, found that the number of Indian firms offering legal related services has nearly tripled, in the past five years, and is expected to have $1.1 billion in revenues by 2014.

In January, San Francisco law firm Morrison & Foerster said in its annual “Global Sourcing Trends for 2011” report that legal services outsourcing had expanded significantly in 2010, as law firms and corporate law departments struggle to cut costs.

Domestically, the Staffing Industry Analysts estimates that temporary legal industry hiring — as measured by revenues — plummeted by 40 percent from 2008 to 2009. That contrasted with a 6 percent increase from 2007 to 2008. That plunge was greater than decreases in any other types of hiring, including information technology temps — where revenues for agencies fell 20 percent, or half as much, as those for legal temps.
But it’s not just law firms, according to recent U.S. Commerce Department figures, that are sending work abroad so consistently that it appears unlikely these jobs will ever return to the United States. Over the past decade, major American companies have cut their domestic ranks by 2.9 million while adding 2.4 million jobs overseas, according to federal data.

Temp jobs: Is there a path to permanence?

For now, temporary hiring is leading the pack when it comes to job growth. A recent survey of client companies suggested tepid workforce growth over the next two years and an increase in the overall share that temporary workers make up in the American labor pool.