Permatemps account for more than one-third of all "temp" workers.
"Permatemp" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1993 as more and more temp workers found their jobs to be anything but. Today, it remains common that "temporary" workers stay in the same position for years without being converted to permanent positions.
People in insecure positions like temp jobs place a drag on the economy as a whole. They are less likely to purchase a home, delay having a family, and see their future earnings suppressed by long periods of lower-wage work.
Countries all over the world regulate the maximum length of a temporary assignment. France, Brazil, Japan, and more than a dozen other nations place a hard cap. Others like Germany, China, and the U.K. require equal pay and benefits either immediately or after a short period of time, reducing the negative impact of insecurity. There are no regulations in the United States. "Temporary" is often permanent.
"Lead us not into temp-nation!"
Robert Hathorn, a temp worker for Nissan, delivers the message about permatemping to the White House in 2015. The Nissan plant where he works in Canton, MS received more than $1.3B in taxpayer funded subsidies to bring jobs to the state. About half of the 5,000 jobs at the facility are permanently staffed by temp agency workers. Despite the number of jobs, the region continues to be one of the poorest in the nation.
THE PATH TO PERMANENT WORK
It is common for temp workers to believe they are on a path to permanent work. Jobs may be labeled as "temp-to-perm," but there is no guarantee without a formal written contract. Research suggests that at best 7% of temporary workers are converted to permanent.
The temporary staffing industry bills its clients an hourly rate, pays workers an hourly wage, and keeps the difference. Therefore, agencies are most profitable when workers remain "temporary" for as long as possible. The only way for temp workers to get ahead is to get off the wheel!