WASHINGTON, DC—According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64 percent of the nation's work force is currently employed in a "temp" capacity by Manpower employment agency.
"With more than 150 million Americans working for Manpower, we truly are a nation of temps," said Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, who in 1996 was placed by Manpower in the top Labor Department spot after Robert Reich vacated the post to accept a three-week data/word-processing assignment in a Hartford, CT, actuarial firm.
Experts attribute Manpower's success to its ability to supply U.S. companies with competent full-time workers who do not have to be given the same social and financial considerations as actual employees.
"Regular, full-time workers can be extremely expensive. You've got to give them health insurance, retirement benefits, sick pay, vacation pay—it's all a tremendous financial drain on a company," said Russell Eglington of Cornell University's Institute of Labor Relations. "That's why so many corporations are turning to Manpower. They've got people who can perform like actual employees but don't have to be well-treated like actual employees."
Sheila Wunsch, human-resources director for Systech Consolidated, a Dallas-based computer-consulting firm, said her company uses Manpower for all its staffing needs, from janitors to secretaries to departmental vice-presidents.
"One great advantage of using Manpower," Wunsch said, "is that you don't have to build relationships with the workers they supply, because, even if they're there for months or years, they're not technically company employees. I can't begin to tell you how refreshing it is to work with people you can ignore, people you don't have to smile at when you see them around the office."
Among the types of jobs Manpower fills: data entry, bookkeeping, clerical, telemarketing, freight-handling, maintenance, landscaping, engineering, teaching, rape-crisis counseling, commercial-jet-piloting, and open-heart surgery.
"I've been temping at Mt. Sinai Hospital for two years now, 60 hours a week," said Emily Schreiber, 23, of White Plains, NY. "Mostly, they've got me doing appendectomies, but I also do bypasses every now and then. It's a pretty good job, as temping goes: I make $9.75 per hour and get a full hour for lunch. Before this, I was doing typing and filing in a law office. Now that was boring."
According to the Labor Department report, by 2005, 99.97 percent of the U.S. workforce will be temping for Manpower. The other .03 percent, the report said, will consist of the owners of corporations using Manpower for their staffing needs, as well as Harlan Bruckner, owner and CEO of Manpower. By 2005, Manpower's own staff is expected to grow to 17.5 million employees, all of whom will be temp workers assigned by Manpower to work for the company itself.