We’re All Service Sector Now

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.

3 thoughts on “We’re All Service Sector Now”

  1. With the current Health Care Reform Bill the best we can get out of the Senate, how can we get EFCA? Or Climate Change? Or anything else worthwhile that we care about?

    We need to return the filibuster to what it was a generation ago, where it takes more than a whim to filibuster a bill.

    Watered-down change is what we can expect when we need 60 votes.  

    Reform the filibuster and get back to Majority Rule.

  2. In theory, unions benefit all workers.  But do they in practice?

    Unions have consistently voted to privilege older workers at the expense of younger ones.  Last hired, first first; strict seniority, etc…  In many cases, faced with a trade-off between across-the-board cuts for the entire union membership – or merely making all future jobs into $9 an hour jokes with no benefits, unions have opted for the latter.

    Time Magazine reported that 50% of union members voted for Reagan (or Anderson) in 1980.  Is that incorrect?  Bush II got 37% of the union vote in 2000 and 40% in 2004.      

  3. This Supreme Court case, empowering corporate-purchased speech throughout our political landscape, will ruin any chance of passing EFCA.  Obama should have fought for it early in his term (as he promised) rather than setting it behind this health care debacle.

    The priorities, in terms of actual sequencing of legislation, have been back-asswards in this Administration.  I blame Rahm, but where does the buck stop, really?

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