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Temporary Help Agencies and the Advancement Prospects of Low Earners

  • Fredrik Andersson
  • Harry J. Holzer
  • Julia Lane

In this paper we use a very large matched database on firms and employees to analyze the use of temporary agencies by low earners, and to estimate the impact of temp employment on subsequent employment outcomes for these workers. Our results show that, while temp workers have lower earnings than others while working at these agencies, their subsequent earnings are often higher - but only if they manage to gain stable work with other employers. Furthermore, the positive effects seem mostly to occur because those working for temp agencies subsequently gain access to higher-wage firms than do comparable low earners who do not work for temps. The positive effects we find seem to persist for up to six years beyond the period during which the temp employment occurred.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13434.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Temporary Help Agencies and the Advancement Prospects of Low Earners , Fredrik Andersson, Harry J. Holzer, Julia Lane. in Studies of Labor Market Intermediation , Autor. 2009
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13434
Note: LS
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  1. David H. Autor & Susan N. Houseman, 2010. "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from "Work First"," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 96-128, July.
  2. David H. Autor, 2000. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," NBER Working Papers 7637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
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  5. Daniel Immergluck, 1996. "What employers want: Job prospects for less-educated workers," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 135-143, June.
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  7. H. J. Holzer & R. J. LaLonde, . "Job Change and Job Stability among Less-Skilled Young Workers," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1191-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  8. Ichino, Andrea & Mealli, Fabrizia & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2006. "From Temporary Help Jobs to Permanent Employment: What Can We Learn from Matching Estimators and their Sensitivity?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5736, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Rebitzer, James B, 1993. "Radical Political Economy and the Economics of Labor Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1394-434, September.
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  11. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 1906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Harry J. Holzer & Steven Raphael & Michael A. Stoll, 2006. "Employers in the Boom: How Did the Hiring of Less-Skilled Workers Change during the 1990s?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 283-299, May.
  13. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  14. John M. Abowd & Robert H. Creecy & Francis Kramarz, 2002. "Computing Person and Firm Effects Using Linked Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. John M. Abowd & John C. Haltiwanger & Julia I. Lane, 2004. "Integrated Longitudinal Employee-Employer Data for the United States," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2004-02, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  16. 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.
  17. John M. Abowd & Lars Vilhuber, 2002. "The Sensitivity of Economic Statistics to Coding Errors in Personal Identifiers," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Mar 2003.
  18. Alan B. Krueger & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Reflections on the Inter-Industry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 1968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. David Autor & Susan Houseman, 2005. "Temporary Agency Employment as a Way out of Poverty?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 05-123, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  20. Farber, Henry S., 1999. "Mobility and stability: The dynamics of job change in labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 37, pages 2439-2483 Elsevier.
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