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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:32 PM
Original message
For Welfare Clients, Temporary Jobs Can Be a Roadblock
The Wall Street Journal


For Welfare Clients, Temporary Jobs Can Be a Roadblock
Short Assignments May Stall Goals of Self-Sufficiency, A Detroit Study Suggests
Michigan Weighs New Options
By DEBORAH SOLOMON
December 15, 2006; Page A1

(snip)

Proponents of welfare-to-work argue that a client who gets a job, even a temporary one, is less likely to become chronically dependent on public aid. Nationally, between 15% and 40% of all welfare recipients who do work are in temp jobs. The prevailing view among Detroit officials and others has been that temp jobs, despite their obvious disadvantages, help welfare recipients taste the dignity of work and develop valuable habits, such as punctuality and learning how to interact with others.

But a recent study of job programs in Detroit, which has one of the largest welfare populations in the country, is challenging the long-held belief that a temp job is better than no job. "Encouraging low-skilled workers to take temporary help agency jobs is no more effective -- and possibly less effective -- than providing no job placements at all," says economist Susan Houseman, of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a Kalamazoo, Mich., think tank. She is co-author, with David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of a study that tracked 23,000 Detroit welfare recipients. The results surprised even the researchers. "If anything, we thought that temporary agencies would help welfare workers build skills, connect with potential employers, and so increase their future earnings," says Mr. Autor. "But this is not what we found."

Temp-agency work, they discovered, can create an unyielding cycle of finding and losing jobs. Detroit's Work First clients often had low morale, slim chances for job stability and plenty of setbacks. "While you're working at the temp job you're not connecting with direct-hire employers...you're not making any advances towards finding a permanent job," says Ms. Houseman.

(snip)

One reason: When a welfare recipient loses a job -- especially through no fault of his or her own -- it can create resistance to wanting to work, says Mr. Chapman, a psychologist. In those cases, battle-scarred clients "are more difficult to send on another placement, saying, 'I know how this works, it's a merry-go-round,'" he says. In addition to their ephemeral nature, temp jobs can have what the researchers call a "displacing" effect. They take up valuable time that welfare recipients could be using to find better, more stable positions. The temporary path may also divert some workers to dead-end jobs that ultimately discourage them from staying in the job market.

(snip)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116611481972750289.html (subscription)
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. Stability is no longer a reality for many.
I learned in a job seeking class last summer that the average tenure at a job is 5 years; often less.

More companies also do part time and other forms of trickery to get around insurance laws. :(
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Five years is nice!
For many it is less than a year, or barely a year.

Certainly the old days of working for the same company for 40 years, or so, with retirement benefits are long gone.

As a matter of fact, hiring managers do like to see more than one job and more than one employer on a prospective applicant's resume.

This is why it is so important for people to put money away in IRA and 401K. This is why, instead of Bush and company wanting privatize social security, they should mandate that each employer match 20% of employees' contributions, instead of the current puny 3 to 5%.

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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. these days- the only way to get a decent raise is to change jobs.
that may be another reason that the average stay at a job is only 5 years- you gain valuable experience, but employers are unwilling to give current employees raises that even keep up with the cost of living, if any raise at all. if you want to have a higher wage/salary, your best bet is usually to try and find a job with a different company that pays you higher.

before i became disabled, this happened to me- i was working as a travel agent, doing travel arrangements for Rotary International out of their headquarters in evanston, IL...there were 12 agents in the department, and my own sales/booking numbers were higher than all of the other 11 agents combined- i accounted for over half of the revenue. when it came time for reviews, the manager said that he could only give me a 3% raise, because that was the highest the company would allow. he also wouldn't consider me for a promotin that became available because i was "too valuable to him on the floor...". I promptly found another job with a different company that gave me a 20% raise, and left. 6 months later, the manager at rotary was gone, and the new manager(who had gotten the asst mgr. job they wouldn't consider me for earlier) called me BEGGING me to come back- since the new job had a lazy boss i had come to despise, i was willing- and i got them to offer me another 10% over what i was being paid by the new job...so it ended up with me having a "raise" of over 30% at the company that wouldn't give me more than 3%.
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 12:34 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. It used to be that one had to actually relocate to enjoy
the upward mobility. But once we homogenized the whole county with the branches and franchises of the same corporation - this no longer holds true.

I am sorry about your disability. I hope that you manage with your savings and with disability payments.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Which mean corporate tax structures need to be geared
To worker retention here in America.
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pop goes the weasel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
3. they needed a study for this?
Obviously, the idiots who think temp employment leads to a stable job have never been in the position of having to do temp work. I have, and I know there were permanent positions that I wasn't able to go after because I was busy with temp jobs. It's a terrible choice: Quit the temp job you have right now, that will pay your rent for the week, or go to the interview for the permanent job that might not come through, leaving you on the street?

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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Always nice to have a real study based on following real people
and not just relying on anecdotes that we all know send the message
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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
4. Not surprising to me
As both a former temp worker and a public policy researcher, welfare-to-work transitions are hard enough without adding the destabilizing factor of never fitting in and rarely being in a job long enough to learn new, marketable skills. Temp agency jobs can be great for people who don't care about benefits or consistency in the workplace but they are difficult for parents who are trying to achieve a stable income and benefits.

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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
7. Let's get this recommended to the front page, plleeeeeez!
Great article... thanks for posting it!
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WernhamHogg Donating Member (378 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
8. I worked for temp agencies for about 5 years
in my late teens/early 20s. Thankfully I was still living at home at the time. I would always do my best and I would always be let go after a while because the company that I was working at thru the temp agency didn't want to pay the very large fee that they would have had to pay to the temp agency for hiring me on. It was always VERY fustrating and depressing when that happened. It was much cheaper for those companies to just bring in a new temp rather than hire me on.
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etherealtruth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
9. I have a friend that worked with an agency ...
...charged with getting welfare recipients to work in the city of Detroit ... welfare to work.

She thought it was great in theory and horrible in practice, for the reasons given in the article. She also believed that people were being trapped further into the cycle of poverty.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:15 AM
Response to Reply #9
14. Thank you for sharing her insights!
Those are the types of policies that are put into place to pacify those who would deny "help" to those struggling the most.

In fact, as her story shows, what these policies do is set people up to fail.

We must remember this every time we want to judge those who aren't "making it".

That trap is deadly. Literally.
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. That is why I won't buy it
Edited on Sun Dec-17-06 12:04 AM by undergroundpanther
I'll take my damn disability and the stigmas of fucking idiots who NEVER had to"make it" or die. Fuck work, I know employers don't give a shit if I live or die, as long as I feed THIER wallet MORE more MOOOOre and sell my soul to the company and give them every waking moment. Fuck the greedy Fuck them forever. May they become poverty stricken and hated for what they have done may the rich feel the bite of having none and suffer. I hate this"economy. It's a Huge scam slavery by dollars instead of chains. America isn't free if there is no community, no sense of decency and respect between people here.
No one looking out for you. We are a nation of islands and sadly many sink from the weight of a single Ceo mountain crushing it with a thousand pink slips, con games and loopholes.
I don't trust employers and I don't trust corporations. Greed has killed the humanity in the business world I refuse to work for a sociopath organization.If I work I will be worse off.
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Porcupine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 01:19 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Tell it brother!!!
It's wage slavery or starve and devil take you if you get injured or ill. Even liberals have internalized this mindset. A person temporarily out of work due to injury can be shunned by the people around him or her. It sucks.
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Zodiak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
12. Gee...the government forces poor people to work
for their benefits and then act surprised that they are treated like cheap workers with no rights? I am sorry, but this outcome was completely predictable.

Welfare reform was a stupid, stupid idea that never should have gotten a "yeah" vote from a Democrat.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 07:49 AM
Response to Original message
13. We can trust the Upjohn institute. Good people there.
The Upjohn Institute does good research, and they have good people working there.

As someone who's done temp jobs (helped pay for college), I would have to agree with the research, too. It's not like you really get any great job experience, and oftentimes, the good place you really like isn't hiring, just having you fill in for someone on vacation or longer leave. It can be hard to turn a temp job into something good and permanent.
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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
15. Look at the data? No! That is too logical. Stick w/ prejudice & assumptions. (n/t)
:sarcasm:
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