If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.
White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.
As might be expected, White leaves a bit of an impression that companies are the bad actors in this play (bolds are mine):
For many Americans, 'temp' work becomes permanent way of life
For Americans who can't find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it's a dead-end route.
With full-time work hard to find, these workers have built temping into a de facto career, minus vacation, sick days or insurance. The assignments might be temporary — a few months here, a year there — but labor economists warn that companies' growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off could do permanent damage to these workers' career trajectories and retirement plans.
"It seems to be the new norm in the working world," said Kelly Sibla, 54. The computer systems engineer has been looking for a full-time job for four years now, but the Amherst, Ohio, resident said she has to take whatever she can find.
... Sibla's husband, 67, got a buyout offer from his former employer and is now retired, but she has minimal retirement savings in her own name. "When you're working as a temp you don't get any of that. Nothing," she said. The couple is downsizing to a smaller home and trying to sell the one they live in now to reduce expenses.
... Economists say it's typical for temporary hiring to rise initially as the economy recovers, before businesses are ready to commit to hiring full-time employees. But Susan Houseman, senior economist at Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said the current pattern doesn't fit historic norms.
"Right now we're seeing something interesting," she said. "We've seen it surpass its previous highs, so it looks like there could be a structural shift going on, too. There's a reason to believe we might see some increase in the use of temporary help in general."
In March, the temp industry added 28,500 jobs, and about 2.8 million workers are employed currently in temporary or contract positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a little more than 2 percent of the workforce, a peak last reached in April 2000, said Steve Berchem, chief operating officer of the American Staffing Association, an industry trade group.
Gosh almighty, what could possibly be causing this "structural shift"?
"We argued when the recovery began that there would be a structural shift," he said. "We were hearing that from members who were hearing that from their clients, (that) they were more likely to use temp and contract workers."
How interesting, given that something else coincided with when the recovery began.
The recovery began in terms of economic growth after the recession officially ended in June 2009. However, the economy kept on losing jobs until February 2010, even though, as economists would have predicted, temp hiring picked up five months earlier in September 2009. September of 2009, though, "just so happens" to be about the time when it started to become apparent that the chances of a statist health care regime actually becoming law were reasonably high. The overall job recovery began in March 2010, which "just so happens" to be the month when the Affordable Care Act passed, but temp hiring just kept going and going.
A shocking 1.1 million, or 13.4 percent of the of the net 8.2 million private-sector payroll jobs added since August 2009, have gone to temps. As noted in NBC's report, it's a segment which makes up only 2 percent of the workforce, so it has grown disproportionately by a factor of almost seven. Employers are doing all they can to avoid paying benefits to people they're not sure they'll be able to keep. Also, don't forget that too many laid-off employees can cause employers' unemployment insurance costs to skyrocket.
All of this plays into another factor, namely the years of economic uncertainty, another feature of the weak Obamanomics "recovery." Benefit and unemployment costs aside, business can't afford to add permanent help in an economy which has had so many stops and starts since the recession ended. Believe it or not, many of them feel bad when they make implied promises of longevity that they are subsequently forced by economic conditions to break — so they avoid doing it.
White's reference to temp hiring in 2000 is numerically accurate but a bit disingenuous. The job market in 2000 was so good that employers were forced to resort to temps because virtually everyone who wanted a permanent job had one. That's certainly not the case now.
Finally, a bit of context:
The not seasonally adjusted figures for temps in February 2014 were 204,000 higher than in any other February previously tracked. March 2014's figure was 201,000 than any other March.
Companies have, in Martha C. White's words, a "growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off," not because they've suddenly become more vicious and greedy, as she implied, but because the weak so-called recovery driven by failed Keynesian economics and Obamacare — not necessarily in that order — have forced them in that direction to stay in business.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.