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Careers Are Dead. Welcome To Your Low-Wage, Temp Work Future

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  • Careers Are Dead. Welcome To Your Low-Wage, Temp Work Future

    August 30, 2012

    Finally, some statistics to prove the stereotypes right. According to a recent survey from Millennial Branding and Payscale, Millenials really are most likely to be employed in service industry jobs. So, all those jokes about post-graduation latte pouring and t-shirt folding haven’t been in vain. And while it might be comforting to think of these jobs as necessary way stations on the path to an upwardly mobile future – especially if you’re someone who holds one – there’s mounting evidence that the American labor market may never return to its pre-recession composition. The future is already here and it brings with it low-wage temporary or contract work as a way of life.

    According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 30% of American workers are expected to hold low-wage jobs – defined as earnings at or below the poverty line to support a family of four – in 2020. This number will remain virtually unchanged from 2010. Given that roughly 50% of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed and those who do work are much more likely to hold these types of jobs, this is a particular grim prospect for young workers hoping to leave these positions behind for greener career pastures.

    And even if Millennial workers do manage to move from retail to the corporate world, there’s no guarantee that their office job will be on the career track. The number of temporary or contract positions was up 6% over last year’s numbers in the first quarter of 2012 according to the American Staffing Association. In fact, the number of temporary or contract jobs added to the economy has been increasing for nine consecutive quarters since the recession officially ended. Over 40% more people hold temp jobs now than in 2009. This growth starts to become something to worry about when temp jobs aren’t being converted to permanent ones and when contract work replaces full-time positions. As ASA CEO Richard Wahlquist put it when discussing the numbers:

    “Employers remain hesitant to add permanent employees due to uncertainty about the current strength of the economy and future economic conditions, including impending tax increases and spending cuts expected to take effect in January 2013. In times like these, businesses are being much more strategic in sourcing additional talent and maintaining work force flexibility.”

    And this cautious approach to staffing and reliance on a disposable workforce may continue for years. While there are certainly highly-skilled and in-demand professionals who are able to parlay their hired-gun status into big paydays or renaissance workers who are mashing up day jobs and dream jobs, those who benefit financially from the gig economy are in the minority. With low-wage occupations set to keep growing – even in economic hotspots such as Silicon Valley – most young workers may be destined to either cycle through a number of temporary positions in search of better wages and working conditions or resign themselves to juggling multiple low-wage jobs in order to support themselves if they aren’t able to find an entry point to the career track before they age out of their recent grad status.

    While scaring up sympathy for Gen Y is often yeoman’s work, the prospect of a generation of workers who are facing job insecurity and uncertain career growth has broader social consequences that can’t be written off as the inconvenience of a coddled few. That economic mobility we prize as a hallmark of the American Dream? Well, just like the 30-year career with a single employer, its days may be over, too. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts:

    “Americans raised at the top and bottom of the income ladder are likely to remain there themselves as adults. Forty-three percent of those who start in the bottom are stuck there as adults, and 70 percent remain below the middle quintile. Only 4 percent of adults raised in the bottom make it all the way to the top, showing that the “rags-to-riches” story is more often found in Hollywood than in reality.”

    Try not to think about this when you clock in for your next shift at the mall.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureen...p-work-future/
    Filed BK 7 Pro Se: August 2010 341 Meeting: September 2010
    November 2010
    Closed: January 2011!!!

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