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

  • 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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13520.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
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Publication status: published as The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Low-Wage Worker Advancement , Carolyn J. Heinrich, Peter R. Mueser, Kenneth R. Troske. in Studies of Labor Market Intermediation , Autor. 2009
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13520
Note: LS
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  1. 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.
  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. Andrew Dyke & Carolyn J. Heinrich & Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth R. Troske & Kyung-Seong Jeon, 2006. "The Effects of Welfare-to-Work Program Activities on Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 567-608, July.
  4. William E. Even & David A. Macpherson, 2003. "The Wage and Employment Dynamics of Minimum Wage Workers," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 676-690, January.
  5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1985. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 648-60, November.
  6. 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.
  7. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth R. Troske, 2005. "Welfare to Temporary Work: Implications for Labor Market Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 154-173, February.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. David H. Autor & Susan Houseman, 2005. "Do Temporary Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from 'Work First'," NBER Working Papers 11743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Susan N. Houseman & Arne L. Kalleberg & George A. Erickcek, 2003. "The role of temporary agency employment in tight labor markets," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(1), pages 105-127, October.
  12. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  13. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth R. Troske, 2007. "The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Low-wage Worker Advancement," NBER Working Papers 13520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Carolyn J. Heinrich, 2005. "Temporary Employment Experiences of Women on Welfare," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 26(2), pages 335-350, January.
  15. 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.
  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. Michael Kvasnicka, 2005. "Does Temporary Agency Work Provide a Stepping Stone to Regular Employment?," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-031, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Andersson, Fredrik & Holzer, Harry J. & Lane, Julia, 2007. "Temporary Help Agencies and the Advancement Prospects of Low Earners," IZA Discussion Papers 3113, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Gagliarducci, Stefano, 2005. "The dynamics of repeated temporary jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 429-448, August.
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