Why I opposed the stimulus

Rep. Pitts

PHOENIXVILLE - The growth in temporary employment is one aspect of the recent general trend toward flexible, market-based work arrangements.

Such employees are on the payroll of temporary help agencies, such as Metropolitan Personnel, Inc., 1260 Valley Forge Road, Phoenixville, but they actually work in other sectors of the economy.

According to Eric N.J. Rittenbaugh, personnel consultant at Metropolitan, the trend in temporary employment leans towards basic clerical work, as well as labor work.

"There is a strong market for administrative work," said Rittenbaugh. "Nothing too professional, more in the lines of basic clerical work. We feel we'll see a lot of heavy temporary work coming this year. You have to begin temporary before becoming full-time."

Having been employed at Metropolitan since 2000, Rittenbaugh said Metropolitan has provided comprehensive staffing support for Delaware Valley employers for over 35 years.

"We have over 900 clients that we provide employees to - the amount varies at any given time," he said. "We draw a lot of temporary employees from the Phoenixville area."

According to the United States Bureau of Labor, Bureau Labor Statistics, professional and business services added 45,000 jobs in December. During 2003, employment increases in this industry have totaled 252,000. The majority of this gain occurred in temporary help services, which added 166,000 jobs in 2003, including 30,000 in December.

There are several reasons for the growth in such flexible work arrangements. First, by reducing the cost and risk of hiring, temporary agencies allow firms to provide employment for entry-level or low-skill workers. These workers often lack the skills or experience firms expect from their permanent workforce. They also benefit from using agencies because by doing so they present less risk and are more likely to be hired. Many of these workers eventually gain new skills and transition into permanent jobs with the client firm or elsewhere.

Second, temporary help arrangements enhance productivity. This occurs as firms realize economies of scale through specialization of labor in particular tasks and benefit from the temporary help agencies' screening and matching of workers to jobs. These productivity enhancements also benefit workers through higher wages and a better accommodation to the needs of some workers for flexible work commitments.

According to Rittenbaugh, "We've done the dirty work for our clients. Our employees are already screened and tested. We can have someone start as soon as possible."

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