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The Growth of Temporary Services Work

  • Lewis M. Segal
  • Daniel G. Sullivan

Temporary services employment grew rapidly over the past several decades and now accounts for a sizable fraction of aggregate employment. The authors use Current Population Survey data to examine the changing nature of temporary work and discuss explanations for its growth. Temps are no longer overwhelmingly female or limited to clerical occupations. They have less labor market security than permanent workers, being prone to more unemployment and more underemployment. Few, however, are in temp positions a year later and the majority transition to permanent employment. Temp wages are approximately 20 percent below permanent workers, but individual and job characteristics explain approximately two-thirds of the gap.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 11 (1997)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 117-136

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:11:y:1997:i:2:p:117-36
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.11.2.117
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  1. Freeman, Richard Barry, 1984. "Longitudinal Analyses of the Effects of Trade Unions," Scholarly Articles 4631951, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  3. Thomas Klier, 1996. "Assessing the Midwest economy--a longer view," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Jul.
  4. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 1906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Garth L. Mangum & Donald Mayall & Kristin Nelson, 1985. "The temporary help industry: A response to the dual internal labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(4), pages 599-611, July.
  6. 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.
  7. Finis Welch, 1993. "Matching the Current Population Surveys," Stata Technical Bulletin, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(12).
  8. Donald S. Allen, 1995. "Changes in inventory management and the business cycle," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 17-26.
  9. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1995. "The temporary labor force," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Mar, pages 2-19.
  10. Brian Motley, 1996. "Recent developments in labor force participation," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue may24.
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