The results are striking. In sum, it matters whether the alternative to temporary work is employment or nonemployment. In the former case, it appears as though temporary workers are less likely to have a job, and less likely to have one with employer-provided health insurance. If they have a job, the job is one with lower earnings than if they had not had temporary work, and overall, they work fewer hours. However, if the counterfactual of having a temporary job is to be not employed, it is very clear that having a temporary job does provide some pathway out of poverty. Individuals who have experienced a spell of temporary work are more likely to have a job, and more likely to have a job with health insurance. If they have a job, the job is likely to have higher earnings than if they had not had a temporary help job. Overall, they are likely to have longer hours of work and less likely to be have incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line than individuals who remained out of employment.
Another important result is that work histories clearly matter in determining the comparison groups. Although we were unable to fully control for work histories, it is likely that our efforts improve the match by much more than would be possible using cross-sectional data--again suggesting that simple tabulations of outcomes for different groups of workers are likely to be misleading.