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A ‘Permatemp’ Economy: The Ideology of the Expendable Employee

NPR Talk of the Nation (01/28/13)

Sociologist Erin Hatton, author of a recent opinion piece for the New York Times tracing the evolution of the staffing industry, appeared on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” to discuss the issues addressed in her article. Hatton said “if employers are looking for…creativity or high productivity, you may not get them from [temporary workers.] But on the flipside, today you might, because there are growing numbers of temporary workers—long-term temporary workers at companies who desperately hope to become permanent workers. And so they give it all they’ve got. So they work overtime. They’re extra creative. They’re extra productive in the hopes being converted to permanent status.”

Hatton added that “when I talk about the problems of the ‘perma-temp’ economy, that’s not to say that all temporary jobs are bad. In fact, for many workers, it works quite well. Also in the information technology world, a number of people can have the flexibility they want, make good money as a temp, and work when [they want.] But for most people, this kind of job is all about insecurity, lower wages, instability, and uncertainty. So let’s keep temporary employment. Let’s take the good but let’s leave off the bad.”