An article by Paul Davidson in this morning’s USA Today reminded me of another reason why we need health care reform in the United States, or at least a move away from employment-linked health coverage: temporary employees may soon comprise 25% of the national workforce.
An encouraging jobs report Friday underscored the growing prominence of temporary workers who some experts predict could constitute up to a quarter of the workforce in a few years.
A big reason employers shed a far-less-than-expected 11,000 jobs last month is that temporary staffing agencies found slots for 52,000 additional workers, the most since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said.
Temp workers don’t draw full health benefits from most employers and must therefore seek high-cost personal policies or pray that their spouse has family health coverage.
At the universities and research institutes where I’ve worked over the last 25 years, there have always been strict limitations on temporary employment to terms of 6 months to one year, in part due to the tendency of employers to take advantage of the cost savings of a temporary or contract employee.
One positive outcome of so many people becoming temp employees is that opponents of health care reform might find themselves on the receiving end of health care insurance costs most often encountered by small businesses or traditional freelancers such as writers, industry consultants, restaurant workers, and musicians.
An abrupt transition from being a corporate beneficiary to a free agent is often what is needed for some to accept that a basic level of health care is a human right.