The Financial Cost of Temporary Work

When given the choice between a full-time job with regular pay and benefits and a temporary, part-time hourly job with no benefits, most of us would pick the former. Some of those who would choose temporary work probably fall into the category of highly skilled entrepreneurs, in-demand freelancers like interior designers billing at $300 an hour, or those following creative ambitions, like writers or musicians. Countless other temporary workers would much prefer to find full-time positions with benefits, but can’t. For many temporary workers, the wages are minimal and uncertain.

NEGATIVE FINANCIAL IMPACTS Though temporary work is becoming more widespread in the U.S., it can have a negative impact on your finances. In many cases, temporary work can significantly undercut your financial prosperity in a number of ways, including:


As an employee at a full-time job, you are almost 100% sure that you’ll have your job tomorrow and reasonably sure you will have it a year from now (of course, layoffs do happen). But temporary workers don’t know in the morning if they will have their job that afternoon. Managing cash flow and saving for retirement are hard enough for people with full-time income they can depend on. Those who can’t count on a regular paycheck have it even harder.


Although hiring temporary employees can be good for business owners, it’s rarely a good deal for the employee. As a full-time employee, you get paid for six or more holidays each year, and you generally get some number of vacation and sick days. As a temp, you get paid only when you work. Temporary workers also miss out on benefits usually available to full-time employees like a retirement plan and health and life insurance, often paid for in part or in full by the company.