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Economist on 'permatemp' data: 'looks like there could be a structural shift'

By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In an uncertain economic environment, employers may need to increase or reduce their workforce more easily, and a senior economist at Upjohn Institute for Employment Research believes that the recent rise in temporary and contract employees might actually signal a "structural shift going on."

Susan Houseman, a senior economist at Upjohn Institute for Employment Research is quoted by Martha C. White, writing for NBCnews, as thinking that the current pattern doesn’t fit historic norms. Houseman stated:

“Right now we’re seeing something interesting. We’ve seen it surpass its previous highs, so it looks like there could be a structural shift going on, too. There’s a reason to believe we might see some increase in the use of temporary help in general.”

Part-timers looking for full-time positions

The number of Americans working part-time who also said they wanted to be working full-time, according to an article by Paul Solman at PBS, increased by over 240,000 in March. Said Solman:

"... we also keep track of a more inclusive measure of unemployment which we call U-7: the total number of Americans who say they want a full-time job but don’t have one. That number rose in March, for the first time since October, to nearly 24 million. That is a lot of people."

Youth and older americans seemed to have been slammed very hard during this economic uncertainty as they search for work. A Commondreams story describes "'Nothing to Live For': Youth Unemployment, Depression, and Austerity, New study finds long-term youth unemployment taking severe mental health toll" while a PBS story on YouTube highlights "Brutal Job Search Reality for Older Americans Out of Work."


White does not mention the economic uncertainty brought on by the ObamaCare/PPACA legislation, according to a blog by TomBlumer at Newsbusters.

This may be exacerbating uncertainty for businesses, which is hurting millions of people in this country.

Last year, the NYTimes ran an op-ed story about how "austerity kills," while also believing it is the responsibility of policy makers to figure out the right mix of fiscal and monetary policy. It featured researchers David Stuckler of Oxford and Sanjay Basu of Stanford who stated:

"The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century. People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs."

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