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A Farewell to Horatio Alger?: An Analysis of Temporary Labor Policy.

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Introduction

A Farewell to Horatio Alger?: An Analysis of Temporary Labor Policy Nicole Ellen Colraine Labor Economics 5/10/2004 America is touted as a land of opportunity where any down-and-out citizen can achieve the American dream of wealth and success by means of hard work, courage, and determination. Anyone who has the willpower and determination can indeed become the next Horatio Alger. One specific quality associated with American culture is an industrious work ethic. Employment is an important aspect of American culture; it defines the individual and provides for her well-being. It must be noted that over the past six years, the American labor force has undergone a stifling changes that hinder one's ability to achieve the American dream. Essentially, steady employment is crucial to survival in a capitalist society. A notable change in the American labor market is that the temporary employment industry has skyrocketed, a trend that has steadily increased since the late 1990's. A surprising statistic is that nearly one in six young adults today will work a temporary job at some point before turning age 35. (Jorgensen & Reimer ) Many people regard the temporary employment industry in a dismissive manner expressing such preconceived notions as: "Temporay jobs are not real jobs" or "Temps don't actually work - they are responsible for ensuring there is a fresh pot of coffee - of course they should be paid less than a permanent employee!" ...read more.

Middle

Wages for entry -level employment (positions held by employees in their first five years of work) is an important measure of the labor market success of young workers, since they provide a clear picture of how young workers fare when they first start working. Temporary workers between the ages of 20 and 34 earn approximately 16 percent less than their counterparts who do the same work but are regular employees. There are 12 million workers age 19-29 with no health insurance or in other words, only 5 percent have employer-provided health coverage, and a similar number have some sort of retirement plan administered by their employer. (Jorgensen & Reimer) As a result, young workers with college degrees earn more than young workers with just a high school degree do, but college graduates today earn less than college graduates 25 years ago. For young adults without a college degree, 75 percent of this the age group, on average, earned 25 percent (inflation adjusted) less in 1998 than did their counterparts 1973. (DOL) Only women with a college degree have made modest progress, with a 12 % earnings increase. (DPE) As highly educated young adults in graduate high school or college and enter into the labor market, those seeking jobs often end up in the service sector with low pay and few, if any, benefits. Furthermore, the occupations that will be readily available in coming years include retail sales, healthcare aides and teaching assistants. ...read more.

Conclusion

The drafting of a Bill or Rights focused solely on individual civil liberties. It is a statement of principles that, translated into appropriate legislation, provides temporary workers with equal treatment and discourages employer abuse. (Lombardi) Temporary employees cope with a great deal of financial insecurity, are for the most part receive lower wages, are not likely to be offered healthcare coverage and a pension, and are granted few protections and rights under the fair labor standards that have been meticulously been implemented in the 20th century. If there were a complete disregard towards the efforts to amend existing labor laws, the problem faced by young people today - who are entering the labor market and experiencing fewer opportunities than their parents did - will only accelerate. Trends towards economic inequality will increase, and the promise of the American dream will recede ever further from the reach of more people. Throughout the past 60 years, significant legislation has been enacted which served to end labor market practices that stifle economic possibilities and decrease the overall happiness of working families. Again, it is imperative that new labor and employment legislation be endorsed to include a new group of neglected employees - the temporary work force. Who the employer is, and who is an employee, must be redefined to reflect the economic realities of today's labor market and its institutions. If we do nothing, an increasing number of employees will end up in substandard jobs every year, thus the American dream of a prosperous career coupled with financial security and a healthy balance in life will become a mere pipe dream. ...read more.

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