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Why employers use flexible staffing arrangements: Evidence from an establishment survey

  • Susan N. Houseman

Drawing on a nationally representative survey of private sector establishments, the author presents new evidence on which employers use flexible staffing arrangements and why they use them. The surveyed employers made widespread use not only of regular part-time workers but also of short-term hires, on-call workers, agency temporaries, and contract workers. Two-thirds expected flexible staffing use to increase in their industry in the near future. Most commonly cited as reasons for using all types of flexible staffing arrangements were the needs to adjust for workload fluctuations and staff absences. Many employers also used agency temporaries and part-time workers to screen workers for regular positions. In addition, the survey evidence points to savings on benefits costs as an important factor in employers' decisions to use most flexible arrangements. The author examines the implications of why employers use the various types of flexible staffing arrangements for workers and public policy. (Author's abstract.)

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 55 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 149-170

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:55:y:2001:i:1:p:149-170
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  1. David H. Autor, 2000. "Outsourcing at Will: Unjust Dismissal Doctrine and the Growth of Temporary Help Employment," NBER Working Papers 7557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996. "The growth of temporary services work," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Alan Krueger, 1989. "The Evolution of Unjust-Dismissal Legislation in the United States," Working Papers 638, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Anne E. Polivka & Stephen M. Miller, 1998. "The CPS after the Redesign: Refocusing the Economic Lens," NBER Chapters, in: Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, pages 249-289 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John P. Haisken-DeNew & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2000. "Interindustry and Interregion Differentials: Mechanics and Interpretation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(3), pages 516-521, August.
  6. Lettau, Michael K., 1997. "Compensation in part-time jobs versus full-time jobs What if the job is the same?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 101-106, September.
  7. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
  8. Katharine G. Abraham, 1988. "Flexible Staffing Arrangements and Employers' Short-Term Adjustment Strategies," NBER Working Papers 2617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Susan N. Houseman & Anne E. Polivka, 1999. "The Implications of Flexible Staffing Arrangements for Job Stability," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 99-56, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  11. 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.
  12. Abraham, Katharine G & Taylor, Susan K, 1996. "Firms' Use of Outside Contractors: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 394-424, July.
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