Say goodbye to full-time jobs with benefits
By Chris Isidore, senior writerJune 1, 2010: 11:40 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Jobs may be coming back, but they aren't the same ones workers were used to.
Many of the jobs employers are adding are temporary or contract positions, rather than traditional full-time jobs with benefits. With unemployment remaining near 10%, employers have their pick of workers willing to accept less secure positions.
In 2005, the government estimated that 31% of U.S. workers were already so-called contingent workers. Experts say that number could increase to 40% or more in the next 10 years.
James Stoeckmann, senior practice leader at WorldatWork, a professional association of human resource executives, believes that full-time employees could become the minority of the nation's workforce within 20 to 30 years, leaving employees without traditional benefits such as health coverage, paid vacations and retirement plans, that most workers take for granted today.
"The traditional job is not doomed. But it will increasingly have competition from other models, the most prominent is the independent contractor model," he said.
Doug Arms, senior vice president of Ajilon, a staffing firm, says about 90% of the positions his company is helping clients fill right now are on a contract basis.
New college degree, no job
"[Employers] are reluctant to bring on permanent employees too quickly," he said. "And the available candidate landscape is much different now. They're a little more aggressive to take any position."
Cathy, who asked that her last name not be used, lost her job as a recruiter for a financial services firm in February 2009. She started working on a contract basis four months later. She believes that many employers are taking improper advantage of the weak labor market.
"I work in HR, I understand that sometimes you need to hire a contractor because you have a project and you won't need the person when it's done in three months," she said. "But that's not what's happening here."
Cathy said her co-workers who had permanent jobs didn't treat her differently, but she still felt like a second-class citizen.
"At one job they were giving out H1N1 flu shots but the contract workers weren't eligible to receive them," she said. "I said 'You guys are still in trouble if I get the flu.'"
Much of the change is due to employers' desire to limit their costs. Stoechmann equates the shift to the one seen in retirement plans, in which employers moved away from the traditional pension plan toward defined contribution plans, which passes more of the burden onto the employee.