Temporary Workers Are Propping Up the United States Economy

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Roughly 2.8 million temporary jobs are propping up the U.S. economy and constituting 2% of total employment, according to a report.

The National Employment Law Project found that temporary help agencies, staffing agencies, professional employer organizations and employment placement agencies fill 2.5% of all jobs, up from 1.4% in 1990. More than 12 million workers moved in and out of staffing agencies in 2013 alone.

While the Department of Labor noted that the unemployment rate dropped from 7.2% in August 2013 to 6.1% last month, the percentage of temporary labor currently in the work force underscores some of the reasons that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, among others, view that percentage with caution. About 92.3 million U.S. citizens were out of the work force in August, up from 90.5 a year ago. Meanwhile, the 6.3 million Americans currently looking for a job is actually up from 6.2 million a year ago.

Increasingly, those temp jobs aren't just clerical positions or seasonal and holiday help. In 2013, material moving workers made up nearly 20% of all temporary workers. Assemblers and fabricators constituted another 9%, while construction trades workers made up 3%. Altogether, workers in the industrial and manufacturing sector accounted for 42% of all temp work in 2013. Administrative assistants, clerks, computer workers and other office workers accounted for just 21%.

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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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