Last year, I wrote a WorkPuzzle on the large pockets of workers in the economy that would be well
positioned to transition to a real estate career. In total, there are over 6-million workers who are “underemployed” and could potentially use their education and talent to upgrade their careers in the real estate industry.
Who are these individuals? They’re temporary or contract workers (often called temps), and they now make up over 2% of the workforce in the United States.
They may be more open to transitioning to industries such as real estate because the nature of the temp employment world is changing. What used to be a pathway to fulltime employee status in many companies is now a dead-end road. White makes these observations,
For Americans who can’t find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it’s a dead-end route.
With full-time work hard to find, these workers have built temping into a de facto career, minus vacation, sick days or insurance. The assignments might be temporary — a few months here, a year there — but labor economists warn that companies’ growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off could do permanent damage to these workers’ career trajectories and retirement plans.
Like underemployed workers (those working less than 29 hours per week), these individuals are not receiving traditional employee benefits. This “levels the playing field” for what real estate companies are able to offer new agents.
So while the frontend of the arrangement for real estate agents looks similar to the value proposition being offered to temp workers, there is much more upside potential in the real estate industry. Agents who are successful establish independent businesses that produce higher wages and earn the capacity to purchase the traditional employee benefits.
Most temp workers will never have this advantage. White points out the structural changes that are happening in the workforce are probably here to stay.
Economists say it’s typical for temporary hiring to rise initially as the economy recovers, before businesses are ready to commit to hiring full-time employees. But, … the current pattern doesn’t fit historic norms.
Right now we’re seeing something interesting. We’ve seen [temporary hiring] surpass its previous highs, so it looks like there could be a structural shift going on, too. There’s a reason to believe we might see some increase in the use of temporary help in general.
No one wants to be stuck in a temp job with little opportunity for growth and advancement, but that’s what most traditional companies are offering these workers. To a person in this situation, transitioning to a real estate career may seem compelling.
Finally, who are the people who find themselves in this position? In addition to being numerous, they also share a few other characteristics. First and most importantly, they are people who want to work, and are more established in their careers.
Second, they generally have education and skills that allow them to get up and running certain jobs quickly. For example, White demonstrates how diverse the temp worker market has now become:
More kinds of businesses seem to be drawing that conclusion, as industries not thought of as traditional temp work territory are using more contract workers. [For example, even] adjunct college professors face much of the same uncertainty and lower wages than their full-time counterparts.
There is a large and growing part of the workforce who are employed in temporary/contract jobs. While many of these individuals are educated and talented, they are frustrated because they are not being offered permanent positions and see little hope for career advancement. Transitioning to the real estate industry may be a better option for some of these individuals.
In my next WorkPuzzle, I’ll address the issue engaging these workers successfully and helping them make the transition to a career in real estate.