Where Do Temp Workers Fit in the Latest Unemployment Figures?

BY Business Desk  December 10, 2009 at 11:02 AM EDT

Paul Solman: Another Twitter question, this one from a Chicago actress who goes by the handle “alipoombayay”

‘could surge mean unemp ran out for lst yr`s laid off and they can finally temp wo losing benefits?’

She means the surge in temporary workers reported in November’s job data. My Tweet:

‘Tweet Q: could temp surge mean unemp ran out for 1st-yrs who can now temp w/o losing benefits? My more traditnl A: temps R prelude to hiring’

I.e., firms like to hire workers as temps before taking them on full-time, with all the benefits and other commitments that entails. And surely firms are worried, as we all are: Suppose there’s another downturn. In short, I don’t think the action is on the supply side: there’s more than enough labor out there already. It’s the DEMAND for labor that dictates more jobs.