Pathways to Work for Low Income Workers: The Effect of Work in the Temporary Help Industry

Lane, J., K. Mikelson, P. Sharkey, and D. Wissoker
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 22(4):581-598.

This paper provides new evidence to inform the policy debate about the effect of a newly important industry—the temporary help industry—on the labor market outcomes of low-income workers and those workers who are at risk of being on public assistance. The core issue of whether temporary help work harms the long-term prospects of disadvantaged individuals depends critically on the alternatives available to the worker. Temporary employment results in labor market outcomes that are better than not working at all. For example, while nonemployed public assistance recipients have only a 35 percent chance of being employed a year later, those who were in temporary employment have almost twice the likelihood of being employed in the same period. These findings, if correct, would support the use of temporary agencies by welfare programs.

Wagner Faculty