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Gig Economy Blues

Around 3.8 percent of workers—or 5.9 million persons–held what are called “contingent jobs” in May…

  • June 18, 2018

Around 3.8 percent of workers—or 5.9 million persons–held what are called “contingent jobs” in May of last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

These contingent workers are persons who do not expect their jobs to last or who report that their jobs are temporary.

In other words, these are “gigs” not proper jobs. Welcome to the gig economy. Things are improving, however:

Using three different measures, contingent workers accounted for 1.3 percent to 3.8 percent of total employment in May 2017.

In February 2005, the last time the survey was conducted, all three measures were higher, ranging from 1.8 percent to 4.1 percent of employment.

The survey also identified workers who have various alternative work arrangements.

In May 2017, there were 10.6 million independent contractors (6.9 percent of total employment), 2.6 million on-call workers (1.7 percent of total employment), 1.4 million temporary help agency workers (0.9 percent of total employment), and 933,000 workers provided by contract firms (0.6 percent of total employment).

Contingent work and alternative employment arrangements are measured separately. Some workers are both contingent and working in an alternative arrangement, but this is not automatically the case.

The measures of contingent work and alternative employment arrangements apply only to a person’s sole or main job. For individuals with more than one job, this is the job in which they usually work the most hours.

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