Unemployed, Underemployed Look to Jobs Summit for Help

John Cullum feels kind of lucky, but only "kind of," he said, because though he recently found a job, it is just a temporary job.

And temping does not pay the $65,000 a year he got before he was laid off in April.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity," Cullum, 44, said at his Poughkeepsie, N.Y., home. "However, my focus remains to become a fulltime employee as soon as possible."

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Cullum and thousands of other newly hired temp workers may actually be harbingers of good news.

In the past, as the United States has come out of recessions, cautious employers hired temporary workers first because they get few benefits. Then, as companies gained more confidence they hired full time workers.

In the past quarter of this year, employment of temps was up by 130,000 jobs, a 6.7 percent increase over the previous quarter.

"The indicators are very positive that about three months after we see increases in temporary work, we see increases in overall employment," Richard Wahlquist of the American Staffing Association said.

Still, for that rosy scenario to become reality employers must continue to gain confidence in the economy.

Boosting confidence is at the top of President Obama's list at the Jobs Summit he is scheduled to host on Thursday. The invitation list includes business leaders, mayors, academics, and experts from the green jobs sector.

They will consider many proposals to boost the economy including:

More stimulus money for construction projects;

rewards for firms that hire more workers;

more steps to ease credit;

extending unemployment benefits through 2010.

But it all costs money. What about the budget deficit, which worries economists, politicians and just plain citizens?

Unemployed, Underemployed Look to Jobs Summit for Help

While some argue that enough has already been spent to try to jumpstart the economy, others disagree, including the chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, Mark Zandi.

"We need to bring those deficits down, but that's not something we need to do in the near term," Zandi said.

Cullum said he worries about the deficit, too. But at the moment, hoping to find fulltime employment, he said he is focused on the near term.