by Jessica Nelson
The temporary help services industry is on the upswing, adding 31,000 jobs nationally in May 2010, for a total gain of 362,000 jobs since September 2009.
In Oregon, there were more than 700 temporary help businesses in 2009, employing about 24,000 workers, or 1.5 percent of the total workforce covered by unemployment insurance
. Nationally, 1.4 percent of the total covered workforce works in temporary help services. Oregon statewide industry payroll was close to $600 million in 2009. The average pay per worker in the industry was $24,659, well below the all industry average pay per worker of $40,740.
Employees of temporary help companies fall into a few different categories, according to Dwayne Stevenson, an analyst with the Oregon Employment Department who focuses on occupational data. First, there’s the permanent staff of the company offices. Then there are the true temps, who supplement the client company’s staff on a short-term basis. Many of them are low-skill, low-experience workers, but some are specialized personnel like health care staff or accounting workers working for firms focused on providing such specialized staff. A third category is often referred to as “temp to hires”: many companies use such staffing as an entry point, offering permanent jobs to temps who perform well on the job in a temporary capacity.
This increasingly common entry point could be a lure to workers struggling among the thousands trying to find a job in the slow hiring environment of a jobless recovery.
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