As the economic recovery continues its slow march, and the unemployment slowly stops increasing (hopefully), consider what kind of jobs are emerging in this brave new world that we are building. The jobs are mostly in the service sector, and many are temporary.
As demand rose after the last two recessions, in the early 1990s and in 2001, employers moved more quickly. They added temps for only two or three months before stepping up the hiring of permanent workers. Now temp hiring has risen for four months, the economy is growing, and still corporate managers have been reluctant to shift to hiring permanent workers, relying instead on temps and other casual labor easily shed if demand slows again. (New York Times)
Workers are disposable in this brave new economy. In fact, many companies are trying to get employees that they laid off to come back as temps. Sure, you’ve got a job, the same one you had before, but now you are making less money with few, if any, benefits.
In California, this practice is particularly dangerous for a couple of reasons. First, as companies are less attached to their workers, they are less attached to their locations. Temporary workers tend to be cheaper in the low-rent towns of Nevada, so why not go migrant?
The other concerning point for the state is that we have already had a pretty strong temporary work culture. For those farmers who hire legal labor, they are still generally hiring temporary labor. For a state that already has a big problem with both employment and the numbers of uninsured.
The only true force opposing the complete temporary-ification of our work force is the labor movement. As unionization rates go down, so do benefits and wages as more and more workers become part-time.
So, how do we increase employer-sponsored health insurance rates (which it appears we are for the time being) and increase full time employment? Besides an additional stimulus bill, the obvious answer would be the Employee Free Choice Act.