One of the challenges facing many job-seekers is the fact that the job market has changed quite a bit in recent years.
The recession that accompanied the recent financial crisis led to a rise in temporary jobs and freelancing jobs.
However, these are no longer jobs that people do to “get by” until they find something a little more permanent. Indications are that these are becoming the permanent jobs.
Temporary Jobs and Freelancing are the New Job Market
Staffing Jobs on the Rise
The American Staffing Association releases data from a quarterly survey about trends in the workplace. For the third quarter of 2012, there was a year over year increase of 4.3% in staffing jobs. The latest data represent the 11th consecutive quarter that staffing jobs have grown since 2009 and the technical end of the recession.
Temporary positions are on the rise, in part, because freelancers, temps, and adjuncts cost a lot less than full-time regular workers.
A few years ago, CNN Money wrote a story about how someone getting paid $14 an hour by an employer can actually cost $20 an hour.
This is because more traditional employees come with a host of additional costs:
- Health care
- Other benefits (group life insurance, daycare, etc.)
- Overhead for a permanent workstation
- Administration and paperwork costs
- Payroll taxes
Temporary workers don’t come with many of those costs.
Freelancers are also extremely inexpensive, since you don’t even have to provide a temporary workstation for someone who works off-site.
On top of that, there aren’t the legal hassles and workers’ rights issues with temporary workers and freelancers. Businesses don’t have to worry about union organizing with temporary workers, and if they can’t find one freelancer to work for a very small sum, there is no shortage of freelancers willing to work for peanuts.
Because we associate so many benefits and perks with traditional jobs, many companies are shying away from making more permanent hires. They don’t have to worry about government paperwork. And, when it comes time to cut back on the help, there is no worry about how to fire someone legally; the temp just gets sent back to the agency.
Realities of the New Job Market
For workers, these realities are a little more daunting.
While business owners can use temporary workers and freelancers to reduce their costs, workers find themselves less able to control their work situations.
I can’t really complain; the new job market has been fairly good to me. My business as a freelancer provides me with opportunities to take advantage of an environment in which companies just want someone to perform a specific task and then move on. Plus, there are a whole host of tax deductions I can take as a home business owner.
Not everyone sees the same benefits, though.
My husband is in the frustrating position of finding that many jobs teaching at colleges are adjunct and guest lecturer positions. While there are some permanent and tenure-track positions out there, adjuncts seem to be in higher demand — at least in his field. This is due to many of the same reasons that businesses like to hire temporary workers. My husband doesn’t get benefits, and they don’t have to pay him a salary. Instead, he is paid per-class, even though they expect him to work with students and other instructors send students to him for help. He does about the same amount of work as a full-time assistant professor, but he is only paid about 1/3 of the amount.
It’s a good deal for the university, which has passed him over twice for a full-time position. In fact, they haven’t filled the position, even though it’s been open for two years. They just give the classes to my husband, and keep paying him less.
For many unemployed workers, the new reality is that it makes more sense to sign up with a temp agency than to spend hours and hours looking for a more permanent situation. At the very least, sign up for temporary work or do some freelancing on the side while you look for a job.
However, you might be better off starting your own business, or looking for some other way to make money on the side.
The job with the full benefits and good pay may not be coming back.