Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

'Contingent Workers' Now Make Up 25% of Workforce

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

'Contingent Workers' Now Make Up 25% of Workforce

Article excerpt

Only a dozen years ago, if you talked to a businessman about making his staff more flexible, he might think you were talking about introducing some new fitness regimen. Now, flexible staffing accounts for 25 percent of the entire U.S. workforce - 60 percent of all new jobs since 1974.

Called "contingent workers," these people work as independent contractors, hiring out for fixed periods. They're like temporary employees, only they usually call themselves consultants and plug in at higher up the organization table than the secretaries and bookkeepers who usually hire out as temps.

Among the types of positions filled by contingent workers are avionics engineers, laboratory technicians, systems analysts, computer programmers, writers, editors, and photographers.

They offer great advantages to the companies who use them. The firms hire them just for when they're needed and don't have to carry them on the payroll the rest of the year. Often the consultants receive no benefits; when they do, it's only for the time they're working.

The obvious advantage is that they cut labor costs - often as much as 25-50 percent. A hidden bookkeeping advantage is that they shift a portion of labor expense from fixed to variable costs.

Companies which use contingent workers also report that they provide higher output per hour worked than their permanent staffers. But perhaps the greatest benefit is that they give a company more ability to respond flexibly to changing conditions.

Most contingent workers enjoy the freedom and variety of their work; many are fully aware of the horror stories about what happened to people who devoted their whole lives to a single company and then got laid off.

QUESTION: Here's a copy of an advertisement I saw offering to teach me to become a stockbroker. What are the opportunities in that career?

ANSWER: The average stockbroker earns $80,000 a year; a few earn over $1 million, but many earn less than $40,000. …

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