IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/upj/weupjo/01-73.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Tight Labor Markets

Author

Listed:
  • Susan N. Houseman

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

  • Arne L. Kalleberg

    (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)

  • George A. Erickcek

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

Abstract

This paper examines the reasons why employers used and even increased their use of temporary help agencies during the tight labor markets of the 1990s. Based on case study evidence from the hospital and auto supply industries, we evaluate various hypotheses for this phenomenon. In high-skilled occupations, our results are consistent with the view that employers paid substantially more to agency help to avoid raising wages for their regular workers and to fill vacancies while they recruited workers for permanent positions. In low-skilled occupations, our evidence suggests that temporary help agencies facilitated the use of more "risky" workers by lowering their wages and benefits and the costs of firing them. The use of agency temporaries in both high- and low-skilled occupations reduced the pressure on companies to raise wages for existing employees, and thereby may have contributed to the stagnant wage growth and low unemployment observed in the 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan N. Houseman & Arne L. Kalleberg & George A. Erickcek, 2001. "The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Tight Labor Markets," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 01-73, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:01-73
    Note: A revised version of this paper appears in Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 57, No. 1 (October 2003), pp. 105-127. Please cite the revised version.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://research.upjohn.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1090&context=up_workingpapers
    Download Restriction: This material is copyrighted. Permission is required to reproduce any or all parts.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Susan N. Houseman, 2001. "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 149-170, October.
    2. Jamie Peck & Nikolas Theodore, 1998. "The Business of Contingent Work: Growth and Restructuring in Chicago's Temporary Employment Industry," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 12(4), pages 655-674, December.
    3. David H. Autor, 2000. "Outsourcing at Will: Unjust Dismissal Doctrine and the Growth of Temporary Help Employment," NBER Working Papers 7557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Linda McDowell & Adina Batnitzky & Sarah Dyer, 2008. "Internationalization and the Spaces of Temporary Labour: The Global Assembly of a Local Workforce," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(4), pages 750-770, December.
    2. Ann Bartel & Saul Lach & Nachum Sicherman, 2005. "Outsourcing and Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 11158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Yukako Ono & Alexei Zelenev, 2003. "Temporary help services and the volatility of industry output," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 27(Q II), pages 15-28.
    5. 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.
    6. Susan N. Houseman, 2001. "The Benefits Implications of Recent Trends in Flexible Staffing Arrangements," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 02-87, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    7. 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.
    8. John S. Heywood & W.S. Siebert & Xiangdong Wei, 2011. "Estimating the Use of Agency Workers: Can Family-Friendly Practices Reduce Their Use?," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 535-564, July.
    9. Camelia M. Kuhnen & Paul Oyer, 2016. "Exploration for Human Capital: Evidence from the MBA Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S2), pages 255-286.
    10. 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.
    11. Joshua D. Gottlieb & Avi Zenilman, 2020. "When Workers Travel: Nursing Supply During COVID-19 Surges," NBER Working Papers 28240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Francesco Devicienti & Paolo Naticchioni & Andrea Ricci, 2018. "Temporary Employment, Demand Volatility, and Unions: Firm-Level Evidence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 71(1), pages 174-207, January.
    13. Fang, Tony & Samnani, Al-Karim & Novicevic, Milorad M. & Bing, Mark N., 2013. "Liability-of-foreignness effects on job success of immigrant job seekers," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 98-109.
    14. René Böheim & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "The employment of temporary agency workers in the UK – with or against the trade unions?," Economics working papers 2009-12, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    15. YOKOYAMA Izumi & HIGA Kazuhito & KAWAGUCHI Daiji, 2015. "The Effect of Exchange Rate Fluctuations on Employment in a Segmented Labor Market," Discussion papers 15139, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    16. Teruyama, Hiroshi & Goto, Yasuo & Lechevalier, Sebastien, 2018. "Firm-level labor demand for and macroeconomic increases in non-regular workers in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 90-105.
    17. Robert S. Huckman & Gary P. Pisano, 2006. "The Firm Specificity of Individual Performance: Evidence from Cardiac Surgery," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(4), pages 473-488, April.
    18. Bartel, Ann P & Lach, Saul & Sicherman, Nachum, 2008. "Outsourcing and Technological Innovations: A Firm-Level Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 6731, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Kim Hoque & Ian Kirkpatrick & Alex De Ruyter & Chris Lonsdale, 2008. "New Contractual Relationships in the Agency Worker Market: The Case of the UK's National Health Service," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(3), pages 389-412, September.
    20. Romina Giuliano & Stephan Kampelmann & Benoît Mahy & François Rycx, 2017. "Short Notice, Big Difference? The Effect of Temporary Employment on Firm Competitiveness across Sectors," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 55(2), pages 421-449, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    temporary; labor; markets; part-time; contingent; Houseman; Kalleberg; Erickcek;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J49 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Other
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:01-73. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/upjohus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/upjohus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.