Oh please, spare me these stories of how people are embracing the uncertainty of the New Economy™
Michael Sinclair knows that in a few months, his stint in the marketing department of a health care manufacturing company here north of Atlanta is set to end.
He has been with the company for only six months, but he is not dismayed. In fact, he actually prefers his life as an independent contractor — constantly being laid off and rehired, sometimes juggling multiple jobs — to his old corporate position.
“I think it’s far less risky than being in a full-time job somewhere and cut at will and left with nothing,” Mr. Sinclair said. “I see this as the way more people will work in the future.”
Economists believe that Mr. Sinclair’s situation has become increasingly common. What is known as “contingent work,” or “flexible” and “alternative” staffing arrangements, has proliferated, although exact figures are hard to come by because of difficulties in tracking such workers. Many people are apparently looking at multiple temporary jobs as the equivalent of a diversified investment portfolio.
Tell that to the single mom working three jobs to keep food on the table. Oh wait, they aren’t. This sort of thing is for people with a cushion.
The notion that the nature of work is changing — becoming more temporary and project-based, with workers increasingly functioning as free agents and no longer being governed by traditional long-term employer-employee relationships — first gained momentum in the 1990s. But it has acquired new currency in this recession, especially among white-collar job seekers, as they cast about for work of any kind and companies remain cautious about permanent hiring.
Others, however, would vastly prefer permanent jobs. They have struggled to deal with the instability, the second-tier status often accorded contractors and other temporary workers and the usual lack of benefits. In most states, they are ineligible for unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation. Indeed, it is not at all clear that the shift to these kinds of arrangements is good for workers.
I think it’s pretty damn clear who it is good for.
Federal and state officials have recently stepped up efforts to crack down on companies that have sought to save money by avoiding paying taxes and benefits on behalf of workers they classify as independent contractors who should actually be treated as full-time employees.
The universe of contingent work and alternative employment arrangements is broad. The largest segment appears to be independent contractors, which includes consultants like Mr. Sinclair, as well as freelance writers, nurse practitioners, information technology specialists and myriad other professionals. In 2005, the last time the Bureau of Labor Statistics tried to track these kinds of workers, independent contractors accounted for 7.4 percent of total employment.
2005 was a completely different economy. What are the numbers now?
There is also a much smaller group whose ranks have been expanding in recent months — workers who draw their paychecks from temporary help agencies. Still others are employed directly by contracting firms, and there are also temporary workers, like seasonal retail hires, brought on directly by companies.
Meanwhile, Gold In Sacks continues to make money hand-over-fist by pushing money around.
Earnings for the Wall Street giant rose 91 percent in the first quarter of 2010, to $3.46 billion or $5.59 a share, up from $1.81 billion or $3.39 a share in the same period last year. Revenues increased 36 percent to $12.78 billion, up from $9.42 billion in the quarter a year ago.
Goldman also said that it had set aside 43 percent of revenue in the first quarter for employee salaries and bonuses, down from 50 percent for the period a year ago.
Poor babies! A cut!
In other news …
We always knew they’ve sought world domination. Cat brain inspires computer of the future
Electronic devices that mimic how brain cells in a cat work could allow computers to one day learn and recognize information more like humans do.
Such brain-like devices might accomplish more complex decisions and perform more tasks simultaneously than conventional computers are capable of, researchers added.
“We are building a computer in the same way that nature builds a brain,” said researcher Wei Lu, a computer engineer at the University of Michigan.
Well, of course. Rahm wants to be Chicago’s mayor. Someday, he says.
In explaining his desire to be mayor of Chicago, Emanuel said that he misses the interaction with constituents.
Rest in Peace: Dorothy I. Height
Dorothy I. Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades, died early Tuesday morning of natural causes, a spokesperson for the National Council of Negro Women said.
Ms. Height was among the coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the center of the American political stage after World War II, and she was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s.
As a civil rights activist, Ms. Height participated in protests in Harlem during the 1930s. In the 1940s, she lobbied first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes. And in the 1950s, she prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more aggressively on school desegregation issues. In 1994, Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In the turmoil of the civil rights struggles in the 1960s, Ms. Heights helped orchestrate strategy with movement leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Whitney Young, James Farmer, Bayard Rustin and John Lewis, who later served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia.
Ms. Height was arguably the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership, but she never drew the major media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time.
In August 1963, Ms. Height was on the platform with King when he delivered his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. But she would say later that she was disappointed that no one advocating women’s rights spoke that day at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Less than a month later, at King’s request, she went to Birmingham, Ala., to minister to the families of four black girls who had died in a church bombing linked to the racial strife that had engulfed the city.
“At every major effort for social progressive change, Dorothy Height has been there,” Lewis said in 1997 when Ms. Height announced her retirement as president of the National Council of Negro Women.
She was also energetic in her efforts to overcome gender bias, and much of that work predated the women’s rights movement. When President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, Ms. Height was among those invited to the White House to witness the ceremony. She returned to the White House in 1998 for a ceremony marking the 35th anniversary of that legislation to hear Clinton urge passage of additional laws aimed at equalizing pay for men and women.
“Dorothy Height deserves credit for helping black women understand that you had to be feminist at the same time you were African . . . that you had to play more than one role in the empowerment of black people,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) once said.
“She not only expected us to keep going, she instructed us to keep going,” Herman said. “She would ball that fist up and say that the National Council of Negro Women wasn’t about one or two persons. She balled her fist to say that you can strike a mighty blow when you make a fist and work together.”
On a personal note, madamab and chatblue have asked to join them at The Widdershins as a contributor. I began yesterday and regular readers will recognize my introductory post. I will continue to post here, but key issue-type posts here will be cross-posted at The Widdershins