Lower Pay, Higher Uncertainty: The Lives of Temp Workers

ST. LOUIS – The U.S. economy created 163,000 jobs in June. Of those, 14,000 were temporary positions. In June that ratio was even higher, with 25,000 temp jobs accounting for almost a third of the total 80,000 jobs added for the month.

Steve Giegerich of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch took a look at what life for some of those temporary workers is like.

Employees such as Robin Barnard work hard and hope their temp jobs turn into permanent positions—with the benefits, higher pay and relative stability that comes with it. But until then, temporary workers face an uncertain world where their jobs can disappear at the first signs of a business downturn.

As the Post-Dispatch reports:

“We’re on the bubble all the time,” she said. “And if anything goes wrong with the business we’re the first to go.”

At 51, Barnard is what some describe as an oxymoron – a permanent temporary employee. She and others have been cycling through a series of interim jobs as the deep recession of 2007-09 staggered into a painfully long recovery.

Barnard has shifted from one staffing position to another at four nonprofits and companies during the past 18 months.

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