The History of Temp Jobs

Where Temp Jobs Began

The initial need and demand for temp jobs was very different from what it is today. Temp jobs became available after World War II. The temp workers were typically white women.They were originally designed for house wives to pick up part-time office work. This was a great solution for companies that needed to fill positions due to an employee’s leave of absence, vacation, or illness. These were typically the only reasons a company would need a temp, and therefore there were not many temps in the workforce.

The Increase in Demand

By the 1970’s, temporary positions in the workforce became more popular  in the United States. Why? Simply, the economy changed. Economic liberalization led to greater flexibility in labor markets. The amount of temporary workers in the U.S.  increased from less than half a million in 1979, to nearly 2.5 million by 1995. Five years later it increased to nearly 4 million workers in 2000. These positions were no longer just for housewives substituting for permanent workers. Temporary positions became easier for companies to manage. It allowed more flexibility for them to grow, downsize, and change as needed.

Temp Jobs in the 21st century

Temp jobs have continued to grow in popularity throughout the 21st century. The gig economy, increase in internet usage, and creation of apps has significantly changed the job market. A gig economy means the labor market is shaped by the prevalence of short-term contracts and freelance work instead of permanent jobs. People can now post and fill the availability of jobs with the click of a button. Furthermore, people can self- fulfill positions for work.

For example, Uber and Airbnb are considered temporary work. Uber operates worldwide in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia , and Africa. Airbnb lists in 191 countries around the world. Both companies allow individuals to freelance on their own schedules, and use short-term contracts to create an income.

There are many jobs that may be freelance and be hired as a temp. To list a few,  graphic designers, photographers, translators, and IT consultants are common ones. There are also many temp agencies available. Their sole purpose is to place temps in available positions for companies, much like a recruitment agency.

Temp Positions Globally

Because economies differ worldwide, so does the demand and supply of temporary work. For example, Chile, Columbia, and Poland have the highest percentages of temporary work in the work force at 27-28%.  Romania, Lithuania, and Estonia have the lowest percentages at 1-4% of the workforce. Other contributing factors are the cultures, lifestyle, and politics. Many countries do not have the same standards or restrictions when it comes to what type of work is legal.

Geoffrey Purkis

About Geoffrey Purkis

Geoffrey is the Founder and CEO of Seattle Web Search. He’s a web developer and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert located in Seattle, Washington with extensive experience in the field. Geoffrey specializes in helping his clients find the right combination of web, search, social, and video content to get the best results from their online marketing efforts.