Report: Temp jobs at all-time high in U.S.

A record 2.8 million Americans are working in temporary help jobs, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project, a non-profit organization that advocates for low-wage and unemployed workers.

The report, released Tuesday, found that temp jobs make up 2 percent of total employment in the U.S, the highest percentage ever.

Temps often have little or no training, no job security, and earn median hourly wages that are 22 percent less than those of other private-sector workers, according to the report. They work with few benefits but are more likely to suffer workplace injuries.

The report also noted that the third-party staffing agencies that place temporary workers with companies have shifted from clerical jobs_which made up just 21 percent of the industry in 2013_ to low-skill blue-collar sectors such as manufacturing and warehousing, which accounted for 42 percent of the industry last year.

About 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies now use temporary workers to manage their warehouses, the report revealed.

“The shift towards temp work is creating an economy in which working people who move and produce products for some of our nation’s largest and most profitable corporations are treated like any other input, to be acquired at the cheapest cost,” said Rebecca Smith, a co-author of the report, in a statement. “Staffing agencies not only fail to provide livable wages, benefits or job security for their workers, but their influence in an industry can lower standards for all workers in that industry.”

The staffing industry dismissed the report as biased.

“It relies heavily on anecdote and outdated data and opaque analysis,” said Steve Berchem, chief operating officer for the American Staffing Association, an industry group based in Alexandria, Va.

For example, Berchem said, the report’s point about the shift in the industry from clerical to industrial work is based on a comparison with 1990.

“My god that was two decades ago,” he said. “Our economy has changed dramatically in the last 25 years so it’s no surprise that the occupational mix of the staffing industry has changed as well.”

Berchem also said the report missed the importance of the staffing industry to job seekers.

“Most staffing workers are looking for permanent work and staffing provides a bridge to permanent jobs,” he said.

The association’s own survey found that 85 percent of staffing workers are satisfied with their pay and a third are offered a permanent job.

“Most end up taking it,” Bercham said. “Ninty percent say it provided them a foot in the door to get a permanent job. ... The average staffing employee works for the industry only for 3 months. These are truly temporary jobs and there are premanent jobs for those who want them.”

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