The Challenge of Temporary Work in Twenty-First Century Labor Markets: Flexibility with Fairness for the Low-Wage Temporary Workforce
University of Massachusetts, Amherst - Labor Relations and Research Center Working Paper
43 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2011 Last revised: 15 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 12, 2011
As the Commonwealth wrestles with the social and economic aftershocks of the worst economic recession in 80 years, the widespread use of temporary staffing arrangements is a sober reminder that the “standard” employment relationship, a cornerstone of the prosperity of the post-World War II era, is no longer available to a large segment of the American workforce. “Job ladders” have disintegrated, depriving capable and dedicated workers of predictable promotions. Regular step increases in pay and cost-of-living adjustments are in many occupational categories a thing of the past. Simply put, the “good jobs” working people need to support families, pay the mortgage and finance a college education are far too scarce.
This report provides policy-makers an assessment of temporary low-wage work in Massachusetts as it affects workers, businesses, and the growth of the Massachusetts economy. Each day, about 25,000 temporary staffing agency workers toil in low-wage industrial and service jobs in the Commonwealth. These workers, like hundreds of thousands of Americans, hold down precarious staffing jobs characterized by erratic schedules, poverty wages, hazardous conditions and demeaning treatment.
Keywords: low-wage temporary work, temping, unregulated labor, low-wage economy, vulnerable workforce, labor law
JEL Classification: K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation