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The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Low-Wage Worker Advancement

In: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation

  • Carolyn J. Heinrich
  • Peter R. Mueser
  • Kenneth R. Troske

We examine the effects of temporary help service employment on later earnings and employment for individuals participating in three federal programs providing supportive services to those facing employment difficulties. The programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, whose participants are seriously disadvantaged; a job training program with a highly heterogeneous population of participants; and employment exchange services, whose participants consist of Unemployment Insurance claimants and individuals seeking assistant in obtaining employment. We undertake our analyses for two periods: the late 1990s, a time of very strong economic growth, and shortly after 2000, a time of relative stagnation. Our results suggest that temporary help service firms may facilitate quicker access to jobs for those seeking employment assistance and impart substantial benefits as transitional employment, especially for individuals whose alternatives are severely limited. Those who do not move out of temporary help jobs, however, face substantially poorer prospects, and we observe that nonwhites are more likely than whites to remain in THS positions in the two years following program participation. Our results are robust to program and time period.

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This chapter was published in:
  • David H. Autor, 2009. "Studies of Labor Market Intermediation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number auto07-1, August.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 3596.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:3596
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Fredrik Andersson & Harry J. Holzer & Julia Lane, 2009. "Temporary Help Agencies and the Advancement Prospects of Low Earners," NBER Chapters, in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 373-398 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Heinrich, Carolyn J. & Mueser, Peter R. & Troske, Kenneth, 2002. "Welfare to Temporary Work: Implications for Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 584, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 1984. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 1489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Antoni, Manfred & Jahn, Elke J., 2006. "Do changes in regulation affect employment duration in temporary work agencies?," Discussion Papers 44, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    5. Michael Kvasnicka, 2005. "Does Temporary Agency Work Provide a Stepping Stone to Regular Employment?," Labor and Demography 0510005, EconWPA.
    6. Susan N. Houseman & Arne L. Kalleberg & George A. Erickcek, 2003. "The Role of Temporary Agency Employment in Tight Labor Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(1), pages 105-127, October.
    7. Gagliarducci, Stefano, 2005. "The dynamics of repeated temporary jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 429-448, August.
    8. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth R. Troske, 2009. "The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Low-Wage Worker Advancement," NBER Chapters, in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 399-436 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Dyke, Andrew & Heinrich, Carolyn J. & Mueser, Peter R. & Troske, Kenneth, 2005. "The Effects of Welfare-to-Work Program Activities on Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 1520, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F189-F213, June.
    11. Julia Lane & Kelly S. Mikelson & Pat Sharkey & Doug Wissoker, 2003. "Pathways to work for low-income workers: The effect of work in the temporary help industry," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 581-598.
    12. David H. Autor & Susan N. Houseman, . "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from "Work First"," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles dhasnh2010, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    13. J. Ignacio García-Pérez & Fernando Muñoz-Bullón, 2005. "Temporary Help Agencies and Occupational Mobility," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(2), pages 163-180, 04.
    14. Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996. "The growth of temporary services work," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    15. 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.
    16. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2000. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 7831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Jacob A. Klerman, 2006. "Evaluating the Differential Effects of Alternative Welfare-to-Work Training Components: A Reanalysis of the California GAIN Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 521-566, July.
    18. William E. Even & David A. Macpherson, 2004. "The Wage and Employment Dynamics of Minimum Wage Workers," Labor and Demography 0404007, EconWPA.
    19. Carolyn J. Heinrich, 2005. "Temporary Employment Experiences of Women on Welfare," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 26(2), pages 335-350, January.
    20. LaDonna Pavetti & Debra Strong with Ruchika Bajaj Michelle Derr Jacquelyn Anderson Carole Trippe Sidnee Paschal, 2000. "The Role of Intermediaries in Linking TANF Recipients With Jobs," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 5f3004cdaef34d17a1f8de917, Mathematica Policy Research.
    21. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
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