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Characteristics of and preference for
March, 2001, Vol. 124, No. 3
The proportion of the workforce consisting of independent contractors, on-call workers, temps, and contractors is small, and the shares of these workers are not growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1999 Contingent and Alternative Work Arrangements Survey.1 In 1999, workers in all four alternative arrangements combined accounted for 9.3 percent of total employment, compared with 9.9 percent in 1997 and 9.8 percent in 1995. Although independent contractors remained the largest group numerically, their share of total employment declined slightly between 1997 and 1999. The proportions of total employment comprised of the other three arrangements changed little over the period. (See exhibit 1 and table 1.) Alternative work arrangements are defined in exhibit 1.
Perhaps the most significant finding from the 1999 data is that more workers in alternative employment arrangements are choosing these arrangements. Data on preference for the arrangements show that more workers actually prefer their alternative work arrangements to traditional jobs. This was true overall for on-call workers, and for temps and independent contractors with 3 or fewer years of tenure. Furthermore, among the four groups, enormous diversity exists in terms of demographics, earnings, benefit coverage, and preference for the arrangements.
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1 The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of 50,000 households in the U.S. The first supplement to the CPS on contingent and alternative work arrangements was conducted in February 1995. Subsequent surveys were done in February 1997 and February 1999.
Current Population Survey
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