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August 1997

Flexible labor: restructuring the American work force

Angie Clinton

Trends in employment, occupations, output, and input provide evidence that firms have increased their purchases of services relative to directly hiring labor. Such purchases include outsourcing or contracting out of various functions, utilizing temporary workers, or leasing an entire work force to meet all labor needs. This article focuses on business services and engineering and management services--two industry groups that provide flexible labor services and have been adding employees more rapidly than have the overall U.S. nonfarm economy.

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