Welcome to Temp Town, U.S.A

Atlanta, Ga. Credit: Flickr user apple.white2010

Late last month, ProPublica ran a story by reporter Michael Grabell on the rise of temporary labor. According to Grabell, temps are becoming more common because many employers have realized that these workers don’t require benefits and will accept lower wages. From a business perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to hire full-time staff for a growing number of positions.

Temp agencies have historically set up shop in communities with large poor or immigrant populations to create what are known as “temp towns.” They especially flourish near warehouses and factories, with some warehouses having almost no full-time employees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were nearly 2.7 million temporary workers in the U.S. as of June, more than ever before. One-fifth of the nation’s job growth since 2009 has come from temporary jobs, which rarely provide living wages. Even getting one of these jobs is often a struggle; Grabell describes workers waiting in alleyways and salons for a lift to a warehouse, underpaid but lucky to have found work.

“This is not Mexico. It is not Guatemala or Honduras,” Grabell wrote. “This is Chicago, New Jersey, Boston.”

And the growth in temp jobs hasn’t occurred only in poorer areas. Most of the counties with the highest concentration of temporary workers, according to census and Department of Labor data, have percentages of residents with bachelor’s degrees and median household incomes similar to the national average (30.4 percent and a little more than $51,000). Lake County, Ill., for one, was significantly above average in both.

In an effort to find out more, Next City collected relevant data on the counties with the highest concentration of temporary workers. This is a snapshot of what we found:

Greenville County, S.C.

Greenville, S.C. Credit: scmikeburton, on Flickr

  • Concentration of temp workers: 8.3%
  • Minimum wage: 7.25/hr /Median household income: $48,586
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,187 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $333
  • Percentage of Single-Person Households: 27% /Percentage of family households: 68.6% /Percent of married-family households: 52.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%
  • Racial composition: 77.1% White, 18.5% Black, 8.5% Hispanic and 2.1% Asian
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 86.9% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 29.6%

Kane County, Ill.

Aurora, Ill.. Credit: Cbradshaw, on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 7.4%
  • Minimum wage: 8.25/hr. /Median household income: $66,497
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,888 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $ 723
  • Percentage of Single-Person Households: 20.8% /Percentage of family households: 75.4% /Percent of married-family households: 58.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 9.5%
  • Racial composition: White 87.4%, Hispanic 31.2%, Black 6% and Asian 3.8%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 83.1% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 31.8%

Kent County, Mich.

Grand Rapids, Mich. Credit: Grguy2011, on Wikimedia Commons.

  • Concentration of temp workers: 6.7%
  • Minimum wage: $7.40/hr. /Median household income: $50,712
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,246 /Median monthly housing costs for units without a mortgage: $460
  • Percentage of Single-Person Households: 26.9% /Percentage of family households: 67.1% /Percent of married-family households: 50.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%
  • Racial composition: White 83.7%, Black 10.3%, Hispanic 9.9 and Asian 2.5%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 90.1% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 31.5%

Middlesex County, N.J.

New Brunswick, N.J. Credit: Forevaclevah, on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 6.4%
  • Minimum wage: $7.25/hr. /Median household income: $74,522
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,389 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $936
  • Percentage of Single-Person Households: 22.9% /Percentage of family households: 72.9% /Percent of married-family households: 55.5%
  • Unemployment rate: 7.6%
  • Racial composition: White 63.6%, Asian 22.9%, Hispanic 19.1% and Black 10.9%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 88.9% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 39.0%

Shelby County, Tenn.

Memphis, Tenn. Credit: Leonard23, on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 5.8%
  • Minimum wage: $7.25/hr. /Median household income: $44,858
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,361 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $459
  • Percentage of Single-Person Households: 33.0% /Percentage of family households: 61.8% /Percent of married-family households: 35.7%
  • Unemployment rate: 9.2%
  • Racial composition: Black 52.8%, White 42.9%, Hispanic 5.9% and Asian 2.5%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 86.8% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 30.2%

Lake County, Ill.

Waukegan, Ill. Credit: Éovart Caçeir, on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 5.4%
  • Minimum wage: 8.25/hr. /Median household income: $74,266
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,108 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $831
  • Percentage of single person households: 22.1% /Percentage of family households: 75.1% /Percent of married-family households: 59.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 7.6%
  • Racial composition: White 83%, Hispanic 20.5%, Black 7.3% and Asian 6.8%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 88.6% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 42.0%

Passaic County, N.J.

Paterson, N.J. Credit: BJT11091 on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 5.2%
  • Minimum wage: $7.25/hr. /Median household income: $52,382
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,693 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $1,000+
  • Percentage of single person households: 24.3% /Percentage of family households: 72.4% /Percent of married-family households: 46.9%
  • Unemployment rate: 10.1%
  • Racial composition: White 75.0%, Hispanic 38.3%, Black 14.7% and Asian 5.5%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 81.6% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 24.4%

San Bernardino County, Calif.

San Bernardino, Calif. Credit: Ie909, on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 4.8%
  • Minimum wage: $8.00/hr. /Median household income: $51,247
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,770 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $387
  • Percentage of single person households: 19.7% /Percentage of family households: 75.5% /Percent of married-family households: 51.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 9%
  • Racial composition: White 77.6%, Hispanic 50.5%, Black 9.6% and Asian 7.0%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 78.3% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 18.2%

Fayette County, Ky.

Lexington, Ky. Credit: Jwombles, on Flickr

  • Concentration of temp workers: 4.6%
  • Minimum wage: $7.25 /Median household income: $47,207
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,296 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $395
  • Percentage of single person households: 33.2% /Percentage of family households: 57.9% /Percent of married-family households: 41.2%
  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%
  • Racial composition: White 78.8%, Black 14.9%, Hispanic 7.0% and Asian 3.6%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 89.1% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 41.1%

Burlington County, N.J.

Evesham Township, N.J. Credit: Airplaneit, on Wikimedia Commons

  • Concentration of temp workers: 4.4%
  • Minimum wage: $7.25/hr. /Median household income: $72,896
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,042 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $832
  • Percentage of single person households: 26.1% /Percentage of family households: 69.4% /Percent of married-family households: 52.8%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.1%
  • Racial composition: White 78.8%, Black 17.3%, Hispanic 7.1% and Asian 4.7%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 92.1% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 34.1%

Fulton County, Ga.

Atlanta, Ga. Credit: apple.white2010, on Flickr.

  • Concentration of temp workers: 4.2%
  • Minimum wage: $5.15/$7.25 (“The State law excludes from coverage any employment that is subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act when the Federal rate is greater than the State rate,” Department of Labor). /Median household income: $53,697
  • Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,807 /Median monthly housing costs without a mortgage: $580
  • Percentage of single person households: 37.2% /Percentage of family households: 54.8% /Percent of married-family households: 36.0%
  • Unemployment rate: 8.3%
  • Racial composition: White 47%, Black 44.6%, Hispanic 7.9% and Asian 6%
  • Percentage of high school graduates or higher: 90.1% /Percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher: 48.3%

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