The number of temporary jobs in the U.S. has increased by more than 50 percent
in the past four years.
Unfortunately, this is the only type of work that is increasing.
Nearly 17 million Americans have temporary jobs. That's about 12 percent of the work force, the highest percentage on record.
Uncertainty about the economy is one reason for the increase. Also, some firms are trying to skirt the new Obamacare requirement to provide health care for full-time employees.
But a recent survey of 37 economists by the Associated Press revealed that most of the economists thought the increased use of temporary workers will become a long-time trend.
One economist explained, "You have your just-in-time work force. You only pay them when you need them."
The advantage to a company is temporary workers usually receive low pay, few or no benefits, and hardly any job security.
For the nation's economy, however, permanent temps mean reduced income and lowered consumer spending, which further curtails employment.
A vicious business cycle.
Drones offer unique peacetime applications
Although Americans are justifiably concerned about losing what little privacy remains, drones can be useful in many ways other than spying on people.
Drones can increase safety by monitoring mines, construction sites, power lines, and other industrial processes.
They can go where humans shouldn't -- into hurricanes and tornadoes with specialized sensors to track storms. And they can inspect contaminated sites.
Enterprises such as agriculture can use drones to monitor crops and livestock for disease, watering, and maturation.
With their ability to operate at night, drones can track wildlife and lead search and rescue missions for lost hikers.
Drones are already performing these and similar functions in other countries benefiting from America's development of unmanned aerial systems.
All that's needed is for the Federal Aviation Administration to complete regulations for commercial applications of drones in this country.
Digital mapping files ruled open to public
Digital mapping files known as geographic information systems (GIS), pioneered by Esri of Redlands, are now officially required to be released to the public by state and local governments.
The California Supreme Court ruled on July 8 in favor of a request by the Sierra Club asking the Orange County assessor to provide copies of its OC Landbase, a GIS database of information on more than 840,000 land parcels.
Orange County contended that the files were exempt from the state Public Records Act. The County would provide the data to Sierra Club only upon payment of a fee of $375,000.
In contrast, Los Angeles County charges only $10 for such files. Of California's 58 counties, 47 already provide GIS parcel maps for a nominal fee.
GIS files are extensive collections of data that are used to display multiple layers of geographical information.
The general counsel for the Californians Aware organization said this decision of the California Supreme Court holds great significance for the rapidly increasing number of people requesting detailed mapping and planning databases from state governments.
Immigration plan to bring 15 million more people
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Senate immigration law alone would increase the U.S. population by 15 million people by 2033.
Even after years of foreign-born population growth, this increase would require American cities and towns to absorb still more diversity, according to the analysis.
The legislation would remake America's workforce, bringing millions of immigrant workers into the economy "" in agriculture, restaurants, technology companies, etc.
The analysis did not estimate the bill's likely effect on unemployment rates.
Farm bill should be aiding workers, too
The farm bill before Congress provides generous insurance subsidies to prosperous Agribusinesses, but nothing to low-wage farm workers.
Yet farm owners from Michigan to California complain they can't attract workers to harvest crops.
As one remedy, the government could match in wages every dollar a farm pays its workers above the minimum wage.
That incentive would attract and compensate workers -- rather than simply insuring Agribusinesses against any loss of profit.
What's a "shrift?"
"Female artists given short shrift" read a headline in Thursday's Times Calendar Section.
Shakespeare in "Richard III" says -- when facing execution, keep your confession (shrift) short.
Now this phrase means being shortchanged, which is what the Times article conveyed.
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