A recent article in Kiplinger's talked about how more employers are relying on temps and contract workers to get the job done these days.
Here's the lede:
What’s different about this recovery is that companies, many of which cut staffs to the quick, seem committed to staying flexible in the long term by using contingent workers to manage everything from special projects to whole departments.
One expert quoted expects that "soon 25% to 35% of employees in the U.S. will be on finite stints, working project to project or under contract. The possibility that health insurance will become more affordable to those outside traditional employment arrangements could be a big impetus." The source (from a global law firm) doesn't say when "soon" might be, nor does the article take into account that health care is not currently on track to become more affordable, much less "soon."
According to the article, "25% of temps preferred the autonomy and flexibility of a contingent career, where success depends on your skills and the demand for them instead of on the fortunes of a single company or even an entire industry." Maybe true, but I'd guess that preference correlates strongly with demographics and skill level -- I'm guessing here, but as things stand today your typical 40-year-old parent of three with a technical degree who is working as "contingent labor" probably isn't too worried about nice concepts like "autonomy and flexibility" -- he's probably worried about having a steady income and being able to afford a family health care plan.
The story also notes that "social business networking" applications such as LinkedIn (as well as Facebook and Twitter) have made it easier to make and maintain the type of professional connections that are needed to give some semblance of resiliency to your career during tough times.
Think of LinkedIn as your professional social safety net -- if you're not already on there, I'd suggest going to LinkedIn and filling out a profile, and make it part of your business routine to connect with colleagues and business partners. After all, who knows when the geniuses on Wall Street are going to ruin the entire global economy again?
(Question: I wonder if you could gauge the health of a company, or even an industry, by watching profile creation/update churn rates on LinkedIn? So, if you saw a number of people from a single company updating their profiles, getting recommendations, etc. you could make a pretty educated guess as to the nature of any major moves happening at that firm?)