ProPublica's The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants are Getting Crushed covers the dark side of temporary work. Key quote on the life of low paid temps:
Many get by on minimum wage, renting rooms in rundown houses, eating dinners of beans and potatoes, and surviving on food banks and taxpayer-funded health care. They almost never get benefits and have little opportunity for advancement.
The article focuses on temps working in low skill industrial or supply chain jobs. According to the article, there are over 800,000 people working in jobs like these - most of which pay less than $25,000 per year.
We spend a lot of time researching the independent workforce, which includes temps, freelancers, the self-employed and others who don't have a traditional job.
Three things are clear from our work:
1. What ever you call it - the Gig Economy, Freelance Nation, The Independent Workforce, The Temp Economy, etc. - this segment of the workforce is large and growing. It's also going to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. It simply offers too many benefits to businesses and, in many cases, workers for it not to grow.
2. Most independent workers like being independent, chose to be independent and plan on staying independent. Our studies show this as do most other studies that look at the entire independent worker segment.
3. There is a dark side to independent work and, as the ProPublica article documents, many independent/temporary workers are exploited. These folks tend to be stuck in low skill positions with poor working conditions and limited protection against abusive and/or unsafe labor practices.
We applaud ProPublica's examination of this topic. The more light that's shined on abusive labor practices the more likely they will end.
But we also want to stress that there are two sides to the Temp Economy.
Yes, we need to improve the working conditions of those being exploited. But we also need to make sure that those who find success as independents have the freedom and continued ability to choose this path.