WASHINGTON (AP) - In one corner of the U.S. economy, hiring is exploding.
The downside for many people is: It's temporary work.
From Wal-Mart to General Motors to PepsiCo, companies are increasingly turning to temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants. Combined, these workers number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them -- about 12 percent of everyone with a job.
Hiring is always healthy for an economy. Yet the rise in temp and contract work shows that many employers aren't willing to hire for the long run.
Temps typically receive low pay, few benefits and scant job security. That makes them less likely to spend freely, so temp jobs don't tend to boost the economy the way permanent jobs do.
An Associated Press survey of 37 economists has found that three-quarters thought the increased use of temps and contract workers represents a long-standing trend.