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Flexible recession: the temporary staffing industry and mediated work in the United States

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  • Jamie Peck
  • Nik Theodore

Abstract

The evolution of the temporary staffing industry (TSI) in the US is examined, with particular reference to the structural functions of temporary work during the boom of the 1990s, the 'flexible' recession of 2001, and the subsequent 'jobless' recovery. It is argued that the TSI is increasingly playing a systemic, macroregulatory role in the US labour market, where it now accounts for a disproportionate share of the costs of labour-market adjustment. The development path of the TSI is closely intertwined with the wider restructuring of the US economy, where it has assumed a significant presence as a purveyor of low-cost, flexibly mediated labour. Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Jamie Peck & Nik Theodore, 2007. "Flexible recession: the temporary staffing industry and mediated work in the United States," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(2), pages 171-192, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:31:y:2007:i:2:p:171-192
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/bel011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "The High-Pressure U.S. Labor Market of the 1990s," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(1), pages 1-88.
    2. Heidi Gottfried, 1992. "In the Margins: Flexibility as a Mode of Regulation in the Temporary Help Service Industry," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 6(3), pages 443-460, September.
    3. Stacey L. Schreft & Aarti Singh, 2003. "A closer look at jobless recoveries," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 45-73.
    4. Erica L. Groshen & Simon M. Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
    5. Garth Mangum & Donald Mayall & Kristin Nelson, 1985. "The Temporary Help Industry: A Response to the Dual Internal Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(4), pages 599-611, July.
    6. Nik Theodore, 2003. "Political Economies of Day Labour: Regulation and Restructuring of Chicago's Contingent Labour Markets," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 40(9), pages 1811-1828, August.
    7. 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.
    8. Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1999. "The High-pressure U.S. Labor Market of the 1990s," Working Papers 795, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    9. David H. Autor, 2003. "Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Unjust Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-42, January.
    10. repec:fth:prinin:416 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Mack A. Moore, 1965. "The Temporary Help Service Industry: Historical Development, Operation, and Scope," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 18(4), pages 554-569, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sweder van Wijnbergen & Tim Willems, 2013. "Imperfect information, lagged labour adjustment, and the Great Moderation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 219-239, April.
    2. Peter Cappelli & J. R. Keller, 2012. "A Study of the Extent and Potential Causes of Alternative Employment Arrangements," NBER Working Papers 18376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marc Doussard & Jamie Peck & Nik Theodore, 2009. "After Deindustrialization: Uneven Growth and Economic Inequality in "Postindustrial" Chicago," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(2), pages 183-207, April.
    4. Yang, Guanyi, 2017. "General Equilibrium Evaluation of Temporary Employment," MPRA Paper 80047, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Alan Walks, 2014. "Canada's Housing Bubble Story: Mortgage Securitization, the State, and the Global Financial Crisis," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 256-284, January.
    6. Ian Fitzgerald & Jane Hardy, 2010. "'Thinking Outside the Box'? Trade Union Organizing Strategies and Polish Migrant Workers in the United Kingdom," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 131-150, March.
    7. Stephan J. Goetz & Sundar S. Shrestha, 2009. "Explaining Self-Employment Success and Failure: Wal-Mart Versus Starbucks, or Schumpeter Versus Putnam," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(1), pages 22-38.
    8. Jennifer Ferreira, 2016. "The German temporary staffing industry: growth, development, scandal and resistance," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 117-143, March.
    9. Jamie Peck & Nik Theodore, 2008. "Carceral Chicago: Making the Ex-offender Employability Crisis," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 251-281, June.
    10. Peter H. Cappelli & JR Keller, 2013. "A Study of the Extent and Potential Causes of Alternative Employment Arrangements," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 66(4), pages 874-901, July.
    11. Ard den Reijer, 2007. "Identifying Regional and Sectoral Dynamics of the Dutch Staffing Labour Cycle," DNB Working Papers 153, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    12. den Reijer, Ard H.J., 2011. "Regional and sectoral dynamics of the Dutch staffing labor cycle," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 1826-1837, July.
    13. Gershenson, Seth, 2013. "The causal effect of commute time on labor supply: Evidence from a natural experiment involving substitute teachers," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 127-140.

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