Economic Snapshot | Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment

The changing face of temp work

A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.

Snapshot for May 30, 2001.

The changing face of temp work

Misconceptions about temporary help employment abound. A leading misconception is that temp work is performed overwhelmingly by women and primarily at office sites. Yet women now make up just over half–52.5%–of the temp labor force, and, moreover, temps have a huge presence in manufacturing: as of 1999 nearly 30% of temps were employed in that sector, compared to only 16.5% of regular full-time workers (US DOL

Female labor force participation, 1972-2001

As the graph illustrates, the share of women temp workers peaked at 65% in 1982 and has been on a steady decline ever since. This trend is the result not so much of women departing the sector as it is of men coming into it-in large part in manufacturing jobs, not clerical ones. Thus, the “Kelly Girl” image notwithstanding, temp work has becoming increasingly male and disproportionately manufacturing.

This week’s Snapshot by EPI economist Jeffrey Wenger.

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