Careers Are Dead. Welcome To Your Low-Wage, Temp Work Future
Finally, some statistics to prove the stereotypes right. According to a recent survey from Millennial Branding and Payscale, Millenials really are most likely to be employed in service industry jobs. So, all those jokes about post-graduation latte pouring and t-shirt folding haven’t been in vain. And while it might be comforting to think of these jobs as necessary way stations on the path to an upwardly mobile future – especially if you’re someone who holds one – there’s mounting evidence that the American labor market may never return to its pre-recession composition. The future is already here and it brings with it low-wage temporary or contract work as a way of life.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 30% of American workers are expected to hold low-wage jobs – defined as earnings at or below the poverty line to support a family of four – in 2020. This number will remain virtually unchanged from 2010. Given that roughly 50% of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed and those who do work are much more likely to hold these types of jobs, this is a particular grim prospect for young workers hoping to leave these positions behind for greener career pastures.
And even if Millennial workers do manage to move from retail to the corporate world, there’s no guarantee that their office job will be on the career track. The number of temporary or contract positions was up 6% over last year’s numbers in the first quarter of 2012 according to the American Staffing Association. In fact, the number of temporary or contract jobs added to the economy has been increasing for nine consecutive quarters since the recession officially ended. Over 40% more people hold temp jobs now than in 2009. This growth starts to become something to worry about when temp jobs aren’t being converted to permanent ones and when contract work replaces full-time positions. As ASA CEO Richard Wahlquist put it when discussing the numbers:
‘Employers remain hesitant to add permanent employees due to uncertainty about the current strength of the economy and future economic conditions, including impending tax increases and spending cuts expected to take effect in January 2013. In times like these, businesses are being much more strategic in sourcing additional talent and maintaining work force flexibility.’