Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Employment Agencies? When and Where?

Looking For A Job, Work, Silhouettes  Do you want a job?  Temporary or full time?  Where do you go?  Most of us pour over the want ads, check the job board places such as Indeed or Monster Board or network to find a job now but how long have employment agencies been around?  Can you tell me?  I can't.

According to my research, employment and temp agencies are a very recent thing.

There are records of at least three agencies dating back to the 1890's but they specialized in placing domestic help in wealthy homes.  They were not large and they certainly were not nationwide like many of the current ones.  Employment and temporary agencies really got their start in the 1940's due to shortages created by World War II.

When World War II began, there was a major exodus of workers who enlisted in the military to fight but in the process they left a bunch of openings.  Industries worked hard to fill the positions left open by recruiting housewives and others.  This eventually lead to specialized businesses designed to help fill those positions.

Just after the war ended, the first real employment agencies as we know them began.  The first and most well known agency formed in 1946 in Detroit, Michigan when William Russell Kelly created the Russell Kelly Office Service.  Kelly services advertised themselves as a company who could provide office help on demand.

Originally, he arranged to pick up typing assignments at offices, bring them to his company, have his people type it before returning the finished product to the original company.  One day, he got a call from a company requesting a temporary secretary because their own one had not shown.  This gave him the idea we see today.  He sent typists off to companies who called for temporary help.

The Manpower agency founded in 1948 by two attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who desperately needed a secretary for a project. When they could not find one, they checked with other businesses to find out what they did for temporary help.  Realizing there was a need, they founded Manpower designed to find temporary workers. 

In 1948 Kelly Services, Manpower, and other agencies avoided clashing with the unions by claiming temporary work was actually "woman's work" since most clerical workers were female.  They took advantage of this idea by associating temp work as a wonderful way for women to earn a bit by working outside the home.

This field continued to grow.  By the 1960's companies were earning between 12 and 24 million per year. As demand continued to grow, a new designation arose, the semi-permanent employee who remained employed by the temporary agency while working at a company or was hired for the duration of a project.  It was cheaper for the company because they didn't have to pay for holidays, insurance, or any of the extra benefits.  In fact, many companies hired their full time employees via temp agencies.

In fact during recessions, the number of temporary employees increase.  Currently agencies place over three million workers every week.  These agencies place people in jobs from janitorial, to medical, to CEO's.  I worked for a temporary agency at various points in my life because I could take time off as I needed and enjoyed the varied work.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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