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January 11, 2022

We're all just 'disposable' workers now, magazine suggests

BusinessWeek is full of all kinds of depressing stuff.

Last November, we cited a piece from the magazine wondering if a “Lost Generation” had been created among young workers – those who, because of the downturn, couldn’t even grasp the first rung of the career ladder.

But if you’ve kept up with the story, the trend has gradually moved from, “Gosh, there’s no steady work for anyone fresh out of school” to, “Um, what do you mean ‘fresh out of school’? I’m 40 and I can’t get a job with benefits to save my life!”

Indeed, the era of the Disposable Worker appears to be upon us, as BusinessWeek reports.

According to the news outlet, enough people are now working jobs with no health insurance, retirement benefits, sick days, vacation, severance and access to unemployment insurance that it’s not likely companies will start offering up better positions anytime soon.

“That’s because this recession’s unusual ferocity has accelerated trends – including offshoring, automation, the decline of labour unions’ influence, new management techniques, and regulatory changes – that already had been eroding workers’ economic standing,” the magazine poses.

Things have gotten so bad for employees’ bargaining power that even existing staff/salary jobs are at risk, ones that employers would gladly offload for contract/temporary positions that cost less and pad profit margins.

The way BusinessWeek puts in, companies – especially now – are more inclined to install “just-in-time labour forces than can be turned on and off like a spigot.”

“When I hear people talk about temp vs. permanent jobs, I laugh,” one labour source tells the magazine. “The idea that any job is permanent has been well proven not to be true.”

What is everyone seeing on the subject Canada-wide? Are employers willing to stand by its workforce or are things more like the way employment agency Kelly Services’ CEO, Carl Camden, suggests: “We’re all temps now"?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...