A few questions were raised elsewhere about overtime and employment.
I'm working as a programmer, at a company that takes sales-contracts from the Detroit 3 Auto Manufacturers.
In my field, some co-workers are programmers who work on contract (and are paid an hourly rate, but don't receive most of the benefits of a salaried employee for the Corporation).
Others are direct-employees of the Corporation.
Though we technically have a 40-hour week, there have been times when urgency of deadlines (or the massive number of incomplete tasks) has resulted in employees and contractors working many hours above the typical 40. Contractors get paid time-and-a-half for those hours. Employees sometimes get promises of extra time off, or are told that the extra work may be considered when the Annual Review is done, and the Bonus is computed.
When the sales were growing, there was much talk of hard work and future reward. The company was growing, and was hard pressed in finding new people to do the work. Now, there is talk of trimming and streamlining.
In all that, I've seen some people transition from contractor to employee. I've also seen employees leave, deciding that an offer from a competitor was more attractive than staying under the current pressure.
Overall, there is a sense that some exempt employees are working harder than others. But there isn't (at the moment) a sense that all employees might be called on to work long hours. A year ago, that requirement was possible every month.
I'm not sure whether this particular kind of employment fits well into either box: the salaried/exempt employee, or the contract/hourly employee. But the lawyers, executives, and HR Department have to adjust to employment law. So I have to be one or the other. (Currently, I'm an exempt/salaried employee. I spent three years at a previous company as a contractor, and then spent two years at the current Company as a contractor.)
There's likely some efficiency loss in the interactions between Employee and Contractor. However, there would also be efficiency loss in bringing on Employees who won't be kept around after a year. So Management, and Senior Management, try to find a balance that is efficient. Or at least, less inefficient than any alternative.