Keywords: Contingent workers, adjustment margin, new economy, structural changes, sectoral effects
Abstract: The level of temporary help supply (THS) employment surged during the
late 1980s and the 1990s. However, we know little about where these
workers were placed and, thus, there is a gap in our understanding of
cyclical and trend industry employment in the U.S. To close this
gap, we estimate the proportion of THS employees in each major U.S.
industry during 1977-97 using information from input-output tables and
from the Contingent Worker Supplements to the CPS surveys of February
1995 and February 1997. Our estimates indicate that almost 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. In fact, the proportion of THS
employees in each major American industry, except the public sector,
increased during our sample period. These increases were particularly
large in services and in manufacturing where by 1997 close to 4
percent of all employees were THS workers. The public sector, which
had demanded almost 40 percent of all THS workers in 1982, hired a
negligibly small number of THS workers in 1997.
Full paper (139 KB PDF)
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Last update: December 21, 1999