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The evolution of the demand for temporary help supply employment in the United States

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  • Marcello Estevao
  • Saul Lach

Abstract

The level of temporary help supply (THS) employment surged during the late 1980s and the 1990s. However, we know little about where these workers were placed and, thus, there is a gap in our understanding of cyclical and trend industry employment in the U.S. To close this gap, we estimate the proportion of THS employees in each major U.S. industry during 1977-97 using information from input-output tables and from the Contingent Worker Supplements to the CPS surveys of February 1995 and February 1997. Our estimates indicate that almost all of the growth in THS employment is attributed to a change in the hiring behavior of firms, rather than to a disproportional increase in the size of more THS-intensive industries. In fact, the proportion of THS employees in each major American industry, except the public sector, increased during our sample period. These increases were particularly large in services and in manufacturing where by 1997 close to 4 percent of all employees were THS workers. The public sector, which had demanded almost 40 percent of all THS workers in 1982, hired a negligibly small number of THS workers in 1997.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 1999-58.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:1999-58

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Keywords: Temporary employees ; Employment (Economic theory) ; Labor supply;

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References

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  1. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The Growth of Temporary Services Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
  2. David H. Autor, 2001. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1409-1448, November.
  3. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan K. Taylor, 1993. "Firms' Use of Outside Contractors: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1995. "The temporary labor force," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Mar, pages 2-19.
  5. Marcello Estevao & Saul Lach, 1999. "Measuring temporary labor outsourcing in U.S. manufacturing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-57, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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Cited by:
  1. Matthew Dey & Susan Houseman & Anne Polivka, 2009. "What Do We Know about Contracting Out in the United States? Evidence from Household and Establishment Surveys," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 09-157, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  2. Andre Kurmann & Julien Champagne, 2010. "The Great Increase in Relative Volatility of Real Wages in the United States," 2010 Meeting Papers 674, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2002. "12 million salaried workers are missing," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(4), pages 649-666, July.
  4. Bartel, Ann P & Lach, Saul & Sicherman, Nachum, 2005. "Outsourcing and Technological Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 5082, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Gary Benedetto & John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane & Kevin McKinney, 2003. "Using Worker Flows in the Analysis of the Firm," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2003-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised May 2004.
  6. Surfield, Christopher & Welch, William, 2009. "Atypical Work and Employment Regulations: A Comparison of Right-to-Work to Closed-Shop States," MPRA Paper 14462, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Mariagiovanna Baccara, 2008. "Outsourcing, Information Leakage and Consulting Firms," Working Papers 08-7, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.

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