I did a lot of work at Columbia on the mobile workforce, seeing labor in firms as units dividing their time between mutliple employers on an engagement basis. The endgame there seemed to be the end of the traditional labor force. I even suggested ata conference last month that it would be interesting to create a real-time job index- jobs that need to be done in the next X hours or Y minutes. Not sure we're there yet.
Reading a post on Please Feed The Animals, the post title speculates that perhaps there are Fewer Advertising Jobs, But Greater Opportunity. The post links to a great WSJ article on freelance employment in the downturn.
I think the data are interesting to think about there. The ultra-mobile (where mobility is also lateral between firms) workforce is a chaotic place to be, and strategically, I think this robs many firms of the opportunity to differentiate through talent acquisition. Perhaps this really doesn't matter as much as it once did, and a firm having access to a network of talented freelancers is the talent differentiator these days.
I wonder: is this is a long term spike that will re-make the firm, or perhaps just an example of how firms cut way past the fat in their layoffs, and are burdened with cost structures that don't make sense anymore? Could agencies have fixed that instead of laying people off?