Economoms: Latest wave to hit the workforce

By Marci Grossman

Everywhere you look there are visible signs of the current poor economy. It might be a lack of "help wanted" signs, or coupons from stores and restaurants that never issued them before, or just hearing friends mention their belt tightening. These signals are much closer than the evening news.

Should you dig deeper, or maybe just look in your mirror, you become aware of the growth of "economoms." This is the term coined to cover mothers who had left the workforce to become stay-at-home moms, but find they need to seek employment to make up the decreased earnings of their spouse. Whether through job loss, salary cuts, or just increased costs with no salary raises, one-income families are finding themselves having to tighten their belts more than they had expected to when the mom originally made the choice to stay home.

No matter whether it is a white collar or blue collar job, most salaries are decreasing in one way or another. The best way for many families to make up the extra dollars is for the second wage earner to re-enter the workforce. And placement companies for part-time and flex-time have become a great way for economoms to reenter the workforce.

Mom Corps is a placement company that works to place flexible and part-time employees. Formed in 2005, they are a perfect model to take advantage of the current employment situation. Mom Corps Chief Operating Officer, Maria Golsholl states, "We have noticed a trend toward hiring more contractors than regular employees. Companies do not want to take on the long term cost associated with hiring someone but will happily bring in a contractor as needed. This works very well with our business model as most of our candidates seek an arrangement like this."

10 til 2 is a company that was formed in Denver, Colorado in 2003 during a local economic downturn. They specialize in part-time, permanent placements. The recent poor economy has brought them more qualified applicants, including economoms, stay-at-home dads (econodads?), and early retirees looking to continue work with a depressed nest egg. Jodi Olin, Founding Partner and Chief Sales Officer of 10 til 2 said, "We are seeing more and more places that are looking to place part-time people. We are seeing more and more businesses recognizing that you can get the job done quickly with a (qualified) part-time person."

The future for economic improvement looks hopeful, though, as Mom Corps saw an increase in new clients in the most recent quarter. Golsholl says, "Interim staffing firms should be the first to feel the economy begin to recover. Businesses will be hesitant to add back staff 'full force' and will hire back contractors who are a lower risk until then. The fact that we just had a better quarter than last tells me that we have started to see the rumblings of a slow return of the economy."

In the interim, while the economy recovers, it's important for economoms to be aware that the work world can be welcoming to people coming back. You don't need to be ashamed of a void on your resume. Be honest about what you are looking for and what you expect. Said Olin, "Regardless of the financial situation, you should still be working toward something you enjoy doing. No one should have to go to work at a job they can't be happy in. Seek out friends and other networking opportunities. Look for alternatives to the normal routes for finding those jobs."

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