The Implications of Flexible Staffing Arrangements for Job Security

Susan H. Houseman and Anne E. Polivka


For many, flexible staffing arrangements —including temporary, contract, and part-time work —epitomize unstable jobs and recent growth in some of these arrangements is viewed as evidence of a broader decline in job security. The primary purpose of this paper is to examine this presumption by examining the job and employment stability of workers in a wide range of flexible staffing arrangements using two new data sources. We draw on a nationwide employer survey on flexible staffing arrangements conducted by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research to explore the reasons why employers use flexible staffing arrangements, and are increasing their use. Specifically, we examine the extent to which employers use flexible staffing arrangements to screen workers for regular positions. We use the February 1995 supplement to the Current Population Survey on Contingent and Alternative Work arrangements matched to the March 1995 CPS and the February 1996 CPS to compare the subsequent labor force status of those in flexible work arrangements in February 1995 to the subsequent labor force status of those in regular positions.