Manufacturing Plants' Use of Temporary Workers: An Analysis Using Census Micro Data
Using plant-level data from the Plant Capacity Utilization (PCU) Survey, we examine how manufacturing plants’ use of temporary workers is associated with the nature of their output fluctuations and other plant characteristics. We find that plants tend to hire temporary workers when their output can be expected to fall, a result consistent with the notion that firms use temporary workers to reduce costs associated with dismissing permanent employees. In addition, we find that plants whose future output levels are subject to greater uncertainty tend to use more temporary workers. We also examine the effects of wage and benefit levels for permanent workers, unionization rates, turnover rates, seasonal factors, and plant size and age on the use of temporary workers; based on our results, we discuss various views of why firms use temporary workers.
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