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The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Low-wage Worker Advancement

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

We examine the effects of temporary help service employment on later earnings and employment for individuals participating in three federal programs providing supportive services to those facing employment difficulties. The programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, whose participants are seriously disadvantaged; a job training program with a highly heterogeneous population of participants; and employment exchange services, whose participants consist of Unemployment Insurance claimants and individuals seeking assistant in obtaining employment. We undertake our analyses for two periods: the late 1990s, a time of very strong economic growth, and shortly after 2000, a time of relative stagnation. Our results suggest that temporary help service firms may facilitate quicker access to jobs for those seeking employment assistance and impart substantial benefits as transitional employment, especially for individuals whose alternatives are severely limited. Those who do not move out of temporary help jobs, however, face substantially poorer prospects, and we observe that nonwhites are more likely than whites to remain in THS positions in the two years following program participation. Our results are robust to program and time period.

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