Larger Temporary Workforce Could Be New Normal

Since the end of the recession, 54 percent of new jobs created have been temp work.

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[See Skills Gap Plagues U.S. Manufacturing Industry.]

Barbara Saunders worked in the marketing department of a Fortune 500 company for six years and was laid off in 2008. To make up for lost income, the now 52-year-old marketing specialist took on some smaller consulting jobs, until last year when she decided it was time to look for a more permanent position. "I wasn't receiving the compensation I used to get," she says. In July, staffing firm Adecco connected Saunders with a then-temporary position at a smaller company. After a few months on the job, she was offered a full-time position as director of marketing, which she started at the beginning of November. "The older you are, it might be a little harder to get back into you want, so therefore sometimes you have to accept something else," she says. "I'm happy with what I did."

Long-term job stability may no longer be a reality for many workers, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. With a series of different assignments comes more flexibility, Berchem says, and many employees, especially from younger generations, prefer that. In a past ASA survey, 90 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their staffing firm and various aspects of their jobs, and 88 percent said they would refer a friend or relative to work as a temporary or contract employee.

During his 16-year professional career, Eyon Karnoff has bounced back and forth between contract work and full-time employment. "I've been full-time for almost five of the 16 years at different stints, and each time I go back to consulting," Karnoff says. The 39-year-old IT management consultant is currently employed through staffing firm Randstad. He's been in his current role for about three months, and says it could last up to 16 months if all goes well. Because he has a specialized skillset, he says companies only need his services for a few months at a time. He says he generally prefers contract work because of the flexibility. In addition, he says he often takes home more pay consulting than he would if he was in a permanent position. "Until the right [full-time] opportunity comes along, I'm happy consulting," he says.

Twitter: @benbaden