Since the economy melted down in 2008, there have been a number of both positive and negative trends in employment. One trend that definitely cuts both ways is the increase in temporary employment. The number of temp workers has jumped 50% since the recession “ended” 4 years ago and temps of all flavors now make up 12 percent of everyone who has a job. On the plus side, these people have work, are getting paid, and getting by. On the minus side, these jobs rarely include benefits of any kind, are temporary and rarely lead to full-time employment.
On the plus side, the rich folks who run the companies that hire all these temp workers (places like Wal-Mart, Pepsico, and General Motors) are all doing great! Economists see this trend as one that has been quietly growing for some time and they think it will become a permanent part of the long term economy. The problem is that people in these positions tend to spend less as they earn less and worry more about their situation. Thus, a large number of temp jobs doesn’t positively drive the economy anywhere near as strongly as the same number of real, permanent jobs would. But, then again, the rich people are doing great and the stockholders are happy, so who cares about the people who do the actual work? Well, we all should.
The bottom line is that people can’t buy houses, save for college, get married, and have kids if they worry about where their next rent payment or meal is coming from. People drift along living hand to mouth and society suffers. Small businesses close, big business thrives but most new jobs are actually created by small business. In fact, small business generally creates the majority of new jobs in this country. So in the long run, while this trend may look good in terms of job creation numbers, which makes Wall Street happy, the reality on Main Street remains bleak. Is there anything we can do about it? Support small business, boycott large companies that replace permanent jobs with temp jobs and talk to each other. The more our voices are heard, and the more we speak with our wallets, the more big business will be forced to do the right thing. And that’s the only way big business ever does the right thing; when they’re shamed into it or forced to by economic pressure.
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