Prior to WWII employment benefits in general did not exist. A person went to work, was paid, and that was that. It was up to the individual to make their own arrangements regarding matters such as savings/retirement, insurance, buying a home, getting the kids through school and whatever else life might throw at them. The nuclear family at that time was a much stronger unit and would take upon itself the care of their elders as well as the support and raising of kids, etc.
Immediately following the war, North America saw one of the greatest economic expansions of all time. Levittown, happened. Every family wanted a house, a washing machine, a refrigerator and a car in the garage. All of this was directly responsible for the creation of what many workers expect and demand today as a significant component of their pay: benefits. How?
Due to the casualties of war there weren’t enough men* available to manufacture things–especially automobiles–so the auto manufacturers were among the first to raid each other’s employees and entice able bodies to make the move with a new invention known as benefits. And the competition to offer more and better took off. And we all saw ‘that it was good.’ Right?
The pendulum is swinging back. More and more I see exceptionally talented individuals being brought in on a contract who just a few years ago would have been a full-time hire. And since there are so many workers willing to accept this status, more and more companies are making the decision to utilize individuals for a single project, pay them well (or not) and, upon completion of project, said worker is back on the bench. In other words, unemployed. The cost of providing benefits is averted.
If you will study your history a little bit and follow this origination of benefits you will also find that these actions directly correlate to the creation of labor unions. I’m not stating an opinion here on the good or bad of unions or the way organizations operate. What I AM saying is that you, as an individual need to be prepared to take care of you and yours.
*I use the male gender exclusively here as it WAS the 40’s and 50’s, right?