The voice of American contract workers: this is “feasting or famine”


The voice of American contract workers: this is “feasting or famine”

Flexibility, freedom, uncertainty, insecurity. Contract workers use these words to describe their work. These fickle jobs are now built into the fabric of American work and life. They have become the new normal. NPR talks with dozens of contractors across the country. Their jobs, salaries and locations vary widely, but they all involve similar themes in their experience.

According to a new NPR/Marist survey released on Monday, one in five workers in the U.S. labor force is considered a contract worker. Most of these workers are men, most of them under the age of 45. Nearly half of the contract workers said their income would change monthly or seasonally.

Freelancer: the rise of contract workers.


The rise of contract workers: work is now different.

Many workers give up traditional fixed positions on the grounds of failure and stagnation. Many of them enjoy the flexibility offered by the job. Some people earn nearly $250, 000 a year; Others, $11 an hour. Those without benefits say they pray not to get sick and are stressed about retirement plans. Here are some NPR staffers using their own voice:

Mike Tannenbaum, 31, a business strategy consultant in Philadelphia.

Mike Tannenbaum

Thanks Mike Tannenbaum

“It’s not as glamorous as I thought, but I love freedom.”

“I’m working on this lifestyle,” says Tannenbaum. He advises companies on how to strengthen teamwork. He says he likes to be able to “when I want to have a break, not to defend someone… And have ownership of my life. But contracting has always been a “feast or famine,” he said. He benefited from his wife’s employer, but said “work brings uncertainty and mood swings”. He said the couple’s American dream is not about ownership, but about as much experience as possible.

Rebecca Miller, 42, an emergency physician in martinez, calif.

“If I had a standard first aid job, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”

There are not many doctors working with patients in dozens of hospitals across the country. Miller. She said, “you choose where you want to go, and then choose where you want to go.” Miller did shift work in hospitals where emergency doctors were in short supply; She performed on the stage through a staffing agency. She spent a happy weekend in North Dakota and New York City, teaching CPR for several weeks on a merchant ship. Flexibility allows her to accumulate regular savings and travel. She plans to take a part-time job later this year to reap the benefits.

Cody Climer, 37, an online customer service assistant in Beaverton, Oregon.

Cody kramer.

By Cody Climer.

“I just want to do a good job, a boring job, and I can go to work every day and do some work that I’m happy and proud of, and I don’t have to be scared of being fired.

When he helps them figure out how to use tax software, Climer sends a message about four clients at a time. After months of unemployment, he signed a six-month contract through a temporary agency. “I put my resume anywhere… And it worked. Mr. Cramer, who has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, graduated from the financial crisis in 2008 and faces a grim job outlook. He wasn’t sure if he could rely on a temporary agency to find his next gig. He won by her husband’s employer health care, and said their American dream is “simple” : “we don’t have a house, we don’t want to, we live in apartment, we live like monks. Don’t have anything crazy – just a comfortable home, running car and a Netflix account. ”

Lindsay Hodgson, 33, of Madison, wis., electronic medical records software.

Lindsey hodgson.

By Lindsay Hodgson.

“I think I’ve reached the American dream.”

Hodgson resigned as a software company and now consults with the software she helped develop. She helps hospitals around the country install and manage electronic medical record systems. She went to the hospital from Sunday to Thursday and rested on weekends. “I don’t want any change in my situation,” she said. “I’m happy.”

Eric Isaksen, 25, of leonardo, New Jersey, director of the merchant shipping deck.

Eric Isaksen

Thanks Eric Isaksen

“We just want the same thing, we want a stable income, we want a house.”

“China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Spain, yemen… Where else? Oman?” Isaacson says, list the places he has been through his work. For three to four months, he lived on a ship he was sailing on. Then there are three to four months on shore leave. “The goal is to work six months in a year, earn enough money,” he said, and then find a new contract before the end of the vacation. “It’s not a heart attack. You’ve missed family, friends, girlfriends, holidays and birthdays. Isaksen looked at starting a family and having a home, and he didn’t see himself working as a contractor for a few years on this schedule.

Carol Katarsky, 44, a freelance writer/editor in Philadelphia.

“I am very much my master, and I think that is the key to why I do the contract work.

Katarsky’s performances include restarting websites from one-off magazine articles to long-term projects. She says being the owner of her schedule allows her to enjoy her work more. “Since I was a kid, I thought playing with words was fun and now I can’t feel my job,” she said. “I’ve always been happy.” Her income fluctuates, but she says her workload is roughly the same as that of her previous employer – and the working hours are half an hour. She played with multiple projects over and over again, focusing on the time she spent with her son. The disadvantage of self-employed people, she says, is the full cost of paying for health insurance, but it is affordable. “I like flexibility… I’m not going to bend to someone’s schedule, and that becomes more important to me,

IT’s Russell Deuberry, 34, in Indianapolis.

“I kept my skills diverse and you wouldn’t be in an awkward position.”

“My family has been working in the same place for 35 years, and it’s never been a choice for me to retire,” Deuberry said. “You can’t trust the company to see your best interests again.” After outsourcing his business, he entered the contract. That allowed him to make enough money, but if the economy went down, he worried that he could not find a job. “I got the house, I bought a car, I found a kid, and the money I’m making now is really satisfying, and to be honest, it’s a lot more than I need,” he said.

Kim Dougher, 55, of Boston, advertising and marketing.

Kim doug

By Kim Dougher.

Frankly, if you have a partner who has a job, it’s much easier to do. ”

“It’s my bread and butter,” says Dougher. She previously worked as a vice President at an advertising agency, arguing that the freedom and flexibility of the contract was the best part of the job. Dougher, who gets health care and other benefits through her frequent travel husband, says she will never return to a permanent position that will never make travel flexible. She draws inspiration from the country’s most iconic TV chef. “Julia loved doing what she was doing as a child until she was dead,” she said. “I want to be able to work and work for as long as possible, and the idea of retiring and doing nothing will not appeal to me.”

Bill Erdle, 65, of Oregon, Oregon, is an hr consultant.

Bill elder.

Provided by Bill Erdle.

“I got health care through my wife’s employer, and before that I had to do something myself, hoping I wasn’t sick.

Erdle is an experienced contract worker: he has had more than 100 contracts since he left the company more than 20 years ago and can handle only five or six contracts at a time. He filled the company’s temporary human resource needs: analysis of pay and development pay structures. Erdle loves the flexibility of working at home and thinks he’s quite successful – he’s a homeowner who is happy to get married and gets benefits through his wife’s employer. But he is always preparing for a potential famine: “you will probably need a year to save money for the inevitable time of no income.”

Brenden Gunnell, 34, of plainfield, indiana, is an opera singer.

Brenden Gunnell

By Brenden Gunnell.

“It just depends on how long my voice lasts… We have a due date.

Gunnell, who is currently performing in Italy, said that as his own boss, he lacked the benefits – he performed in dozens of countries. “I have a stage conductor or orchestra conductor in every job I do,” he says. “these are the bosses I work with. “If it’s great, it’s great, and if it’s a bad job, I can only do it safe and sound.” But his craft has created its own unique challenges: his song will send out, and he said, after this to happen, if you don’t find another job, he is impossible to retirement.


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