Employers are increasingly turning to temporary and freelance workers to fill their staffing needs, according to a new report published by the Oklahoma City-based staffing company Express Employment Professionals.
During the Great Recession, more companies used temporary workers to fill staffing needs due to economic uncertainty, and the trend hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down even as the economy has recovered, said Bob Funk, chairman and CEO of Express Employment Professionals.
“In response to the Affordable Care Act and higher taxes, companies are responding to uncertainty by turning to temporary employees,” Funk said.
While about 2 percent of United States’ workforce is made up of temporary employees, temporary workers make up more than 4 percent of Europe’s workforce, because of higher business costs and taxes, Funk said.
Funk predicts that the United States’ workforce will begin to look more like Europe’s over the coming years.
The number of temporary employees in the United States has increased by about 50 percent since the end of the Great Recession, according the report America’s Changing Workforce and the Rise of the Contingent Employee, a new report released by Express Employment Professionals for Labor Day.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that Express compiled, the temporary help services industry now employs around 2.7 million Americans per week — an all-time high.
The Affordable Care Act is one of the biggest reasons that employers are turning to temporary workers to fill their staffing needs, Funk said.
“Most of the companies we work with are small to mid-size and are concerned about having to pay for health insurance for their workers if they have 50 or more employees” Funk said. “Obamacare gave us a free pass on temp employees.”
Employers are not required to offer healthcare coverage for temporary workers under the Affordable Care Act, and Express does not have to offer insurance coverage until a temporary employee works more than 1,500 hours a year — an average of 28.8 hours per week.
Not all temporary jobs are low-paying, and some of the fastest-growing temporary jobs are also some of the highest paying, Funk said.
According to data complied by Express in the new report, human resources is one of the fastest growing fields for temp workers, with median earnings per hour of $26.83. Registered nurse ranks No. 5 on the list of fastest-growing temporary positions with median hourly earnings of $31.48.
“There is a shortage of quality skilled people in many fields,” he said. “It’s simple market economic — supply and demand.”