Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Americans are Growing More "Flexible" About Taking Temp Jobs

Here is a companion article to the one I posted this morning about the insidious idea of the whole workforce being made into temporary workers. The Consumerist posted a brief story last week which included a bunch of blandly stated statistics about how Americans are now embracing the idea of taking temporary jobs like never before:
With about a half-decade of a blah economy and weak employment, Americans are growing more amenable to taking temporary employment, changing their viewpoint from the glass-half-empty opinion of "it's a job without permanence" to "it's a job that may lead to something permanent one day."

This is according to the latest Workplace Insights Survey from the folks at Adecco, which found that 63% of Americans now look at temp jobs more positively than they did last year, while 86% believe that a temp gig is a viable option for someone who wants to gain work experience.
That was really about all there was to the story. There wasn't any attempt to place the poll data into the larger context of people obviously becoming more desperate for jobs and willing to accept whatever they can get.

I have some pretty strong opinions on this subject, of course, but instead of just repeating myself yet again I'd rather call attention to some of the more insightful reader comments that accompanied the article:
u1itn0w2day: Workers become more flexible when the companies they work for require them to bend over further and further every day.

squinko: Problem is a lot of employers don't like that attitude. They want an indentured servant mindset when interviewing for the very mediocre job. They want you to think that you will have a lifetime of employment with them. A career with them. Neither of which they have any business at all promising or implying that you will get it.

Mark702: No benefits, no raises, little or no opportunity for advancement, this is the new American economy. Thanks Bush 2 and Bush 3 (aka Obama).

The Twilight Clone: The only way to create jobs is to give people like Mitt Romney a tax break. A Republican told me so.

coffee100: Management has won. They have succeeded in cutting your pay, stripping you of your benefits, destroying your job security, increasing your stress and dissatisfaction at your job and treating you like a caged animal day to day. They get away with it because there is a ready supply of sycophants there to shout you down when you complain.

sponica: career? what is a career? how does one change careers if one lacks a career?

RandomHookup: The headline is a bit reminiscent of "Drunk Men Far Less Selective at Closing Time".

retailriter: The problem is, the companies want the same loyalty and work ethic out of employees as though they are paying them decent wages, benefits, and providing job security.

dolemite: Yeah, it's all great people hop between jobs, but guess what? Temp jobs have few or no benefits, no retirement, and no stability. So people might be able to pay their bills in the mean time, but what does it mean for their future?

ShinGetterPoPo: I'm following the thank god I have a job method. Until I get enough money to pay the bills properly again, I'll take what I can get.

Invictus: If we continue mindlessly voting with our money for the cheapest "appearing" option we will eventually become more of a third world country. We are already on our way, thanks to all politicians who value multinationals corporations over people.

Tiercelet: Your job went to China because Chinese people will work in slave-labor conditions (getting rousted out of bed at 1 AM from your at-the-factory dormitory to work back-to-back 12-hour shifts) and the Chinese government will provide all needed infrastructural, R&D, and facilities-construction funding.
Yes, it would appear that despite all of the mainstream media obfuscation, the real truth about our economic predicament is slowly dawning upon more and more people. Just how long it will take that awareness to reach a tipping point is anyone's guess.

Bonus: Bill's very funny bit on bosses


  1. Stealing pensions:

    I think the scenes of protesters hurling rocks at the Oakland police is a turning point in the Occupy movement, unfortunately. I expect things to escalate.

  2. The sad part is that everyone I work with is a temp. No pay increases, no bonuses, no paid vacation or sick days, no 401k matching, no real benefits to speak of. We get minimal health insurance, which is at least something. Sad thing is I've been stuck here for the last 2 years because there is no where else to apply since the financial meltdown. The jobs simply aren't there. My choices are unemployment or keep doing this crappy job.

    Last year, they promised us pay raises. They made us get together samples of our work and meet with representatives with the promise that we would get at least a raise (but a solid no on other benefits). A year passes and all they do is dangle that small carrot out in front of us with no actual action. I can't tell you how much that affects morale in my group. Everyone wants to quit.

    Basing an entire economy around abusing employees and giving them no job security wouldn't end well at all. From the employees point of view, we are just stuck here doing our jobs hoping not to get laid off. Yet we all know that day is coming sooner or later. Once it does, the lack of any real retirement benefits or secure health care will come around to bite us in the ass. Companies get to grind us into the ground and literally make us sick. Then once our health becomes an issue, were let go because we are no longer efficient. Of course the real reason is that they don't want to take care of employees that spent decades supporting their company.

    Just realizing that makes me want to book the next flight off the planet.

    1. Gads, that's an awful story...but one I'm sure is becoming increasingly common.

  3. It seems like a lot of the progressive actions from around the turn of the last century to improve employee rights and conditions are being reversed in this current economic situation. Employees have lost any bargaining position, and because they are so desperate for work will consent to the bullying of those hiring. It doesn't look like things will improve in this area for a long time, if ever.

  4. Yeahhhh...but the fact is, Americans have been living excessively and artificially well for decades (centuries?) by exploiting the environment while pushing the costs into the cheap immigrant labor and, more recently, outsourced production...also by plundering the resources of other countries, often blatantly by military force and who knows, maybe even more often by selectively funding proxy dictatorships that have profited from diplomatic and CIA manipulations. We've also cleverly outsourced our garbage and pollution, which isn't working out all that well, because it turns out the world's oceans and atmosphere are all connected!

    1. Sadly, we could easily have used the great gift of our natural resources to build a much more sustainable, equitable and just society. Had we had the wisdom to do that, collapse would still be far off in the distant horizon.