The History of Contract Work

For most, going to work means you’re an employee of a company, receive a salaried or hourly pay every week (or every other week), work specific hours, and (sometimes) receive benefits like health and dental insurance and a 401k or pension. As traditional as that seems, it might be surprising to know that independent contracting (and contract work) has actually been around for quite some time, too. In fact, independent contracting predates the 20th century. Now, as we enter the 22nd year of the 21st century, independent contracting is often interchangeable with the word freelancing. What does that mean, though?

Contractors and Freelancers

Independent contractors and freelancers are those who work without the restrictions of classic employment. While freelancing is often used interchangeably with contract work, there are differences.

Independent contractors can work at a client site (or offsite) and operate as a business, hiring employees and/or subcontracting out parts of the work, when needed. Independent contractors determine their own rates and usually work with their customer to determine a schedule or timeline.

Freelance workers are self-employed, like contractors, and typically operate as a single source. Like independent contractors, freelancers will determine their going rates. And, although these professionals can bring on help, when needed, they typically work alone and also determine their own schedule.

In all cases, freelancers and independent contractors typically sacrifice security and benefits for the freedoms that come with the title.

The History of Contract Work

So, what’s the history of independent contracting? Well, simply put, there have always been people willing to take on work for others without being employed by a business or company. Consider the classic farmhand. This person was not employed by a company but rather, made an agreement with the farmer to work on the farm, perform certain tasks, sleep (or not sleep) at the farm, and work for a certain price. This same concept can be seen throughout history in which someone contracted out their services for a specific project, intent, or timeline, but without being employed and without the benefits of long-term employment. This was often done out of necessity, simply due to a lack of long-term employment opportunities or employers.

Considering how far back independent contracting goes, it’s interesting to know that it was the independent contractor classification that shaped current labor laws. The history books say the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were created due to poor working conditions for employees and a lack of fair wages. However, it was also the “shake of a hand” type employment for independent contractors and the ambiguous rules around contracting that greatly affected these acts (even though independent contractors were not protected by the act). Then, in 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act was written. This act attempted to clear up confusion surrounding the definition of “employee” in the NLRA but unfortunately, it did not. Therefore, the definition of independent contractor varies greatly from state to state, even now.

The Future of Contract Work

Which brings us to 2021. We’ve got independent contractors and freelancers, and we also have gig workers. There are benefits to these types of employment for both an individual and a business. It provides flexibility and independence for the individual as well as minimal training and overhead costs for the company.

Is this the new type of worker? We’re guessing so and we’ll likely see more employment laws in place to accommodate these workers like the California 1099 Self-Organizing Act.

With all that said, there’s a long way to go for independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers. While the US works to pave that path, PMG found the middle ground. Our PMG Technicians enjoy the lifestyle of contract work with the protection of classic employment. Likewise, our clients enjoy the increase in production without the costs associated with hiring and training.

If you’re interested in hearing more, apply here to join a talented team of technicians or contact us to join our long list of satisfied customers.

Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney

Technical Manager & Coach

Manufacturing Trends in 2021

PMG works in the heart of manufacturing. We work with those doing the manufacturing (clients) and those who make the manufacturing happen (employees). Because of that, we have a perspective that allows us to see all of what’s happening in manufacturing across the United States. In 2021 a lot happened, especially after coming out of 2020.Here’s some manufacturing trends that we saw:

Supply Chain Issues

There was a global shortage of materials for manufacturing thanks to 2020. The United States was hurt the most by international supply chain networks. Bottlenecks in the supply chain led many (consumer and manufacturer alike) to reconsider American made production, and it’s importance.

On another note, if you’re curious about the supply chain, check out our article titled The History of the Supply Chain.

A Surge in Plastics and Packaging Manufacturing

Thanks to restaurants closing down, and higher levels of sanitary requirements, the manufacturing of plastics and packaging surged. Everyone needed their food to-go once restaurants opened back up and we all needed to get creative about how we stored items (thanks to rethinking sanitation & hygiene habits).

Process Manufacturing

While discrete manufacturing was shut down and/or struggling with the supply chain, process manufacturing couldn’t stop. Process manufacturing includes the food and beverage industry, some plastic manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, soap, and personal hygiene (or consumer goods) items. In fact, many manufacturers of consumer goods altered their product lines to create critical (and hard to find) items like hand sanitizer and disinfectants.

Parts Manufacturing

Car parts and electronic components were hard to find in 2021. Mostly thanks to COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020 and the reliance on offshoring common in American manufacturing. That reliance, coupled with supply chain issues, really caused a stir. We are still seeing scarcity for these parts as we near the end of 2021.

Equipment/Machine Manufacturing

Without a full workforce in manufacturing facilities, companies needed to get creative and find workarounds. Machine and equipment manufacturing skyrocketed. Without employees performing hands-on tasks in production, manufacturers realized there was an opportunity (sometimes, a forced opportunity) for automation and robotics. As a result, orders for more automated (and customized) machinery were made than ever before.

Heavy Equipment/Off-road/Agricultural Vehicles

This industry is an interesting one in 2021. As new equipment orders were delayed due to supply chain issues, owners of this type of equipment leaned on repairs or alterations to keep old equipment moving. That, coupled with the very seasonal nature of the industry (and thus, critical timelines), ensured there was high demand across the US for skilled workers to help these types of manufacturers succeed (and do so on schedule).

Distribution Centers (DCs)

DCs became all the rage. Companies quickly learned the criticality of strategically placed distribution centers (or strategic alliances with third party DC partners). Getting product to the consumer, and getting it to them quickly, was important. As a result, there were many needs for Order Selectors, Order Pickers, Material Handlers, and Forklift Operators at DCs across the United States.

Attracting & Retaining Employees

This was a huge trend in 2021 in ALL industries, not just manufacturing. Companies had to get creative while also stretching their budgets. Pay rates went up and sign-on bonuses (as well as referral bonuses) were everywhere. In fact, some companies were offering sign-on bonuses upwards of $100,000! Additionally, more companies were leading their teams with empathy and a little tough love. More companies are recognizing the world is a crazy place and employees need a little more flexibility and understanding.

What manufacturing trends did you see in 2021?

Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney

Technical Manager & Coach


At the age of 41, it’s fair to say I’ve known the magic of Santa Claus for a good three decades. When my kids were born, I had the desire to keep Santa alive in their hearts for as long as I could. Only problem: I’m a horrible liar. When my then far-too-smart-for-her-own-age seven-year-old asked for the umpteenth time if Santa was real, I couldn’t lie any longer. I cried right along side her as she grieved the loss of that jolly fat man, and I grieved the loss of her innocence. What kind of mother am I?

And Now…

Fast forward a few years when neither of my kids are believers anymore. We still enjoy the annual tradition of tracking Santa’s whereabouts every Christmas Eve. Which got me thinking, why in the world does the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) take the time, the money, and the energy to invest in tracking a fictional character and his eight tiny reindeer across the globe. Turns out, it was all a mistake.

And How…

According to the NORAD website, it all started by accident back in 1955. A child inadvertently called the Continental Air Defense Command (the precursor to NORAD) instead of a local department store, asking to talk to Santa Claus. The commander on duty that night quickly realized the error. In the spirit of the season, the commander pretended to be Santa to make the little kid’s dream come true. And that’s it – how incredibly sweet and simple is that?

For 65 years now, tracking Santa’s whereabouts has become the Department of Defense’s largest community outreach program. Millions of visitors go to their website coming from more than 200 countries around the world each season.

If you’re looking for something fun to do this Christmas Eve, follow Santa’s flight patterns by jumping on any of NORAD’s social media platforms linked below:

Until December 24th, enjoy the magic of the season and the joy that one simple error can bring to a world full of tiny children just watching and waiting for Christmas morning! If you’re interested in reading more, please check out PMG’s blog!

Beth Bangtson, Director of Human Resources

FlexTrades has lunchbox hacks because FlexTrades believes that those who eat better work better. This blog is our effort to improve the American workforce one lunchbox at a time. We want you to feed yourself with something that fuels you better and we have tips, tricks, and recipes to make that possible! If you missed our last lunchbox hack, check it out on our blog page now.

With Thanksgiving barely behind us, and Christmas just ahead, many people are making (and eating) more sweet potatoes now than the rest of the year combined. That means an awful lot of those tasty tubers are probably finding their way into your lunchboxes as leftovers too. How do you freshen up such an old staple and are you choosing them correctly to begin with?


Thinner, longer sweet potatoes and yams (Is there even a difference? You bet there is!) are easier to cook due to more even heat distribution while cooking. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, skip the fat ones. Your results and prep time will both benefit.


Slashes > Pokes! Most people like to stab their sweet potatoes with a fork. However, if you treat your yams like Michael Myers (think BIG knives) by deeply slashing them you’ll thank us. This happens because the larger surface area of a slash allows heat to penetrate more quickly and evenly than little pokes. A secondary benefit is that more water can escape too so you’re also less likely to end up with a watery side dish.


For those who really want to make an impression, try something you’ve never thought of before to change up tradition. A great option is this Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe with Crunchy Peanut Butter we received from Ilse, at Culinary Ambition. It’s a great way to mix things up at your next holiday spread. We promise you won’t be able to wait to get the leftovers into your lunchbox for your next workday either!

We hope you find these tips and tricks helpful and the recipe tasty. If you like what you learned, skim through our other blog posts here the next time you’re hungry for more knowledge. Have a tip, trick, or recipe of your own? Send it to our Writing Team and we’ll be happy to feature it in a future Lunchbox Hack too!