The sector of the job market experiencing the most rapid increase is temporary and part-time work. Nothing else comes close. The number of these workers now stands at 28 million, the most ever.
Because of the tremendous growth in this area, some business experts are saying that the change is not just the result of the economic downturn, but part of a new type of economy itself. So, even when the economy picks up, temporary workers will remain a key component of the new workforce.
Business is looking for more flexibility, but with fewer people. Companies are focusing on the one-fifth to one-fourth of their workforce that is responsible for about three-fourths of productivity. The companies are reexamining the role of everyone else.
Companies are organizing their work in the from of projects, to make it easier for contingent workers to participate. Information technology is also making it easier for companies to reconfigure jobs on an ongoing basis. As a result, the skills and experience of workers have become more of a commodity.
These analysts contend that the constant change going on among markets around the world makes it more conducive for companies to do more with contingent workers. Companies now believe that the way to operate is with a smaller full-time core group. It’s now seen as too risky to hire more full-time employees beyond this core group.
Another reason that this change is seen as more structural is the fact that getting more education does not change the job dynamic – a recent study shows that almost half of recent college graduates have jobs for which no degree is needed.
Workers today aren’t in a contest with each other. They are more in a contest with new ways of doing things. Companies are now finding it more cost effective to use contingent workers, or outsourcing, or automation, or new methods to enhance their productivity.
So, really, all of the talk about uncertainty because of government regulation, health care changes, and talk about economic growth bringing back full-time jobs really misses the point. Companies have a new mindset. They justdon’t want to make a commitment to a larger full-time workforce, regardless of what other factors are considered.