, 2000

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JUNE 1, 1999  9:00 AM
2030 Center
Adam Luna or Hans Riemer (202) 822 6526
One In Six Young Adults Will Be 'Temps'; New Report By Policy Group Addresses Rise Of Temporary Work
WASHINGTON - June 1 - More than half of all temp workers are under age 35, according to a new report by the 2030 Center, a public policy organization for young adults. If current growth rates for the temp industry continue, the report finds, one in six young workers will be employed by a temp agency before turning 35. Titled When Good Jobs Go Bad: Young Adults and Temporary Work in the New Economy, the report addresses the explosive rise of temporary work and its impact on young workers. It includes original research on Labor Department data for temporary work, an emerging field which economists increasingly point to as having a major impact on the labor market.

In a hallmark sign of change in what public figures call the "new economy," Manpower Inc., a temporary agency, is now the nation's largest private employer. According to the 2030 Center report, most young temporary workers struggle in substandard jobs and face steep penalties in wages, benefits and basic rights.

The report shows that young temp workers earn about 16.5 percent less than they would if doing the same work in a full- time job. Not only do they earn less, but there also is a large "benefits gap" for temp workers- only five percent of temp workers have health insurance through their employer, and only 14.5 percent have a retirement plan administered by their employer. It is still unclear how much, if anything, temp agencies contribute to the few benefit plans that are offered.

In releasing the report, 2030 Center Director Hans Riemer said, "the rise of temporary work has been virtually ignored by policy makers, but it brings profound consequences for young people coming into the labor market. These are full time jobs for millions of young workers. Whatever social contract once existed in the workplace, however, has been totally shredded by the temp agencies and their client companies. As a result, young workers are doing far worse than their baby boom counterparts were at this point in their lives, across all education levels.

"There is a perception that 'all you have to do is design a web page' and you'll make it big. But even companies like Microsoft are replacing permanent workers with 'perma-temps,' who, despite working full-time on core Microsoft products, get few benefits and don't have many basic rights. Microsoft, in fact, won't even admit that they are really the employer for these young workers. Is this the real 'new economy'?"

The report, written by labor economist Helene Jorgensen, outlines a set of policy recommendations for the temporary workforce, including one that would make both the temp agency and the client company responsible for wages, benefits, and other standards. The report also outlines a temporary workers' bill of rights, which the 2030 Center has made the policy focus of its "Jobs of the Future" project. For a complete copy of the report and to discuss its findings, please contact Hans Riemer at the 2030 Center, 202 822 6526.

The 2030 Center is a public policy organization dedicated to improving the economic circumstances of young adults.


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