This article derives from participant observation research of temporary help work—a kind of work that has grown exponentially in recent decades and now employs millions of workers both in the United States and globally. More specifically, between 1999 and 2003, I spent a significant amount of time going out on temporary jobs and waiting for work with unemployed and underemployed workers at temporary agency sites in Syracuse, New York. This article chronicles this experience and highlights the perspectives of temporary workers I came to know through the course of my research. These workers are primarily men who identify themselves as blue-collar workers. They turn to temporary help as a means to finding a full-time job. They almost never find a full-time job through temping, however, and instead become dependant on the low-wage temporary jobs dispatched by the agencies. In the wake of large-scale industrial production, temporary help work has become a popular form of employment for poor and working-class communities. Unfortunately, this article shows that the social, psychological, and economic ramifications of doing this kind of work are not so new; they are in fact reminiscent of the social problems experienced by casual workers a decade ago—poverty, transient living, and a loss of working-class pride. Now, at the turn of the millennium, one of the most popular forms of work, temporary help, is in fact casualizing the lives of blue-collar workers in the United States.

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