NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Evolution of the Demand for Temporary Help Supply Employment in the United States

Marcello M. Estevao, Saul Lach

NBER Working Paper No. 7427
Issued in December 1999
NBER Program(s):   LS   PR

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported an extraordinary increase in temporary help supply (THS) employment during the late 1980s and the 1990s. However, little is known about the venues where these THS employees actually work. Our estimates indicate that the proportion of THS employees in each major American industry, except the public sector, increased during 1977-97. By 1997, close to 4 percent of the employees in manufacturing and services were THS workers. In the service sector, the increase was accompanied by a large increase in direct hires. In manufacturing, however, it was accompanied by a decline in direct hiring from its peak in 1989 even though output increased substantially in the 1990s. Practically, all of the growth in THS employment is attributed to a change in the hiring behavior of firms, rather than to a disproportional increase in the size of more THS-intensive industries.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7427

Published: Carre, Francoise et al. (eds.) Nonstandard work: The nature and challenges of changing employment arrangements, Industrial Relations Research Association Series. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, ILR Press, 2000.

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