At first glance, the answer to this question may appear obvious. Any form of gainful employment, even temporary employment, is widely considered preferable to prolonged unemployment. In certain real world circumstances, however, the benefits of temporary employment may not outweigh the negatives. Many people find temporary work to be very beneficial, since both employee and employer understand the temporary nature of the job and there is far less concern over a unexpected lay-off or firing. Others may find it to be little more than a stop-gap exercise, only temporarily staving off the effects of unemployment.
Temporary employment is still considered employment, which means an unemployed worker's benefits may be affected by the additional income. Under certain circumstances, unemployment benefits may be calculated according to the last work performed, not necessarily the last permanent employer. This means if a laid-off factory worker accepts a temporary job that pays minimum wage and then becomes unemployed again, his or her unemployment benefits may only be based on the lower wages of the temporary position, not the higher wages of the factory job. Some workers may find it more beneficial to remain on unemployment rather than work a temporary job for less money.
There are those who do benefit from temporary employment, however. Some people become very frustrated while performing the same job duties over and over again. Working for a temping agency often means taking on a number of different work assignments for short periods of time, therefore reducing the chances of boredom or job burnout. For those just entering or re-entering the job market, this type of employment can help entry-level workers become familiar with an office or factory work environment before seeking more permanent employment. Demonstrating a strong work ethic or exceptional aptitude while temporarily employed can help a person stand out if the company decides to hire a permanent employee.
Some laid-off workers may benefit mentally and emotionally by seeking temporary employment rather than rely on unemployment benefits. When permanent jobs become scarce, some people become completely discouraged and can spiral downwards into depression. Working a temporary job, no matter how menial the task or how overqualified the worker might be, can help some people stave off feelings of worthlessness or unemployability they may experience following a firing or lay-off.
For those on a dedicated job quest, the question of accepting temporary employment can be complicated. Time spent working on a temporary assignment is generally time not spent looking for more suitable employment. Scheduling a job interview or traveling out of town on a wider job search may prove difficult while working at a temporary job. Fortunately, many modern job seekers can take advantage of online job application websites and electronic resumes to continue a permanent job hunt while still working temporarily.
Some people find that temporary employment in their field is a good way to learn new skills, which would be very beneficial during an interview for a permanent position. Employers generally consider any effort to stay active in the field to be a plus. Again, this benefit should be weighed against any potential loss of benefits.