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The American Workplace - Contingent Workers And Alternative Work Arrangements

occupations employment february time

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According to the BLS, even though most formal studies have found no change in workers' overall job tenure, the effects of media reports and personal experience of corporate downsizing, production streamlining, and the increasing use of temporary workers can cause workers to question employers' commitment to long-term, stable employment relationships. There is also a growing unease that employers, in their attempts to reduce costs, have increased their use of "employment intermediaries," such as temporary help services and contract companies, and are relying more on alternative staffing arrangements, such as on-call workers and independent contractors (also called freelancers).

Workers may take employment in a nonstandard arrangement, such as working for a temporary agency, for a number of reasons, including inability to find a permanent job, a desire to work fewer hours when they have a young child at home, or a desire to experience varied jobs and job sectors. In addition, nonstandard work arrangements such as consulting or contracting can provide a more flexible workday and more lucrative remuneration.

Contingent Workers

The BLS defines contingent work as any job situation in which an individual does not have an explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment. This includes independent contractors, on-call workers, and those working for temporary help services. In the report TABLE 2.6 Multiple jobholders by selected demographic and economic characterististics, 2004–05 "36. Multiple Jobholders by Selected Demographic and Economic Characterististics," in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat36.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 2005 (July 27, 2005), the BLS estimated that contingent workers accounted for between 1.8% and 4.1% of total employment in the United States. In February 2005, 22.6%-27.2% of all contingent workers in the United States were employed in professional and related occupations. Other high rates of contingency were in the education and health services industries (21.8%-27.1%), sales and office occupations (20.6%-24.3%), office and administrative support occupations (14.8%-19.4%), and service occupations (15.7%-17.6). (See Table 2.7.)

TABLE 2.6
Multiple jobholders by selected demographic and economic characterististics, 2004–05
[Numbers in thousands]
Characteristic Both sexes Men Women
Number Ratea Number Ratea Number Ratea
2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005
aMultiple jobholders as a percent of all employed persons in specified group.
bIncludes small number of persons who work part-time on their primary job and full-time on Other secondary job(s), not shown separately.
Note: Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. In addition, persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race and, therefore, are classified by ethnicity as well as by race. Dash indicates no data or data that do not meet publication criteria.
SOURCE: "36. Multiple Jobholders by Selected Demographic and Economic Characterististics," in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2006, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat36.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)
Age
    Total, 16 years and overb 7,473 7,546 5.4 5.3 3,835 3,855 5.1 5.1 3,638 3,691 5.6 5.6
16 to 19 years 274 298 4.6 5.0 107 118 3.6 4.0 167 180 5.7 5.9
20 years and over 7,199 7,248 5.4 5.3 3,728 3,737 5.2 5.1 3,471 3,511 5.6 5.6
20 to 24 years 795 798 5.8 5.8 377 373 5.2 5.1 419 425 6.5 6.5
25 years and over 6,403 6,450 5.4 5.3 3,351 3,364 5.2 5.1 3,052 3,086 5.5 5.5
    25 to 54 years 5,361 5,361 5.5 5.4 2,800 2,782 5.3 5.2 2,561 2,579 5.7 5.7
    55 years and over 1,042 1,089 4.7 4.6 551 582 4.6 4.6 491 507 4.8 4.7
    55 to 64 years 869 900 5.0 4.9 451 473 4.9 4.9 417 426 5.1 4.9
    65 years and over 173 189 3.6 3.7 100 109 3.7 3.8 74 80 3.4 3.6
Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity
White 6,357 6,342 5.5 5.4 3,266 3,268 5.2 5.1 3,091 3,074 5.9 5.8
Black or African American 705 763 4.7 5.0 360 363 5.2 5.1 345 400 4.3 4.9
Asian 226 257 3.8 4.1 118 128 3.6 3.8 108 128 3.9 4.4
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity 612 582 3.4 3.1 363 333 3.4 2.9 248 248 3.5 3.4
Marital status
Married, spouse present 4,125 4,109 5.2 5.1 2,408 2,416 5.3 5.3 1,718 1,693 5.0 4.9
Widowed, divorced, or separated 1,303 1,324 5.9 5.8 463 452 5.1 4.8 840 872 6.4 6.5
Single (never married) 2,044 2,113 5.5 5.5 964 987 4.7 4.7 1,080 1,125 6.4 6.4
Full- or part-time status
Primary job full time, secondary job part time 3,908 3,942 2,210 2,219 1,697 1,724
Primary and secondary jobs both part time 1,678 1,708 540 570 1,138 1,138
Primary and secondary jobs both full time 286 294 187 188 100 105
Hours vary on primary or secondary job 1,564 1,558 879 859 685 698

CONTINGENT WORKER CHARACTERISTICS

In February 2005 laborers who were between the ages of twenty and thirty-four years were more than twice as likely to be contingent workers as workers who were younger or older, according to estimates published in Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 2005. The trend was evident for men and women contingent workers. The contingent workers were also more likely to be employed full-time than part-time. (See Table 2.8.)

Alternative Work Arrangements

Employees in alternative work arrangements are individuals whose place, time, and quantity of work are potentially unpredictable or individuals whose employment is arranged through an employment intermediary. Examples include independent contractors, on-call workers, workers paid by temporary help firms, and workers whose services are provided through contract firms.

Some of the alternative arrangements have been in existence for decades; however, there is a lack of data analyzing the number of workers in these arrangements. The ranks of independent contractors include construction workers and farmhands, whose working situations did not change much in the twentieth century. Similarly, on-call workers such as substitute teachers, registered nurses, and performance artists did not see much change in the manner of obtaining work. However, temporary help agencies can only trace their widespread existence in the United States to shortly after World War II, and there is evidence that providing employees to fulfill the administrative or business needs of other companies is a spreading phenomenon.

TABLE 2.7 Employed contingent and noncontingent workers by occupation and industry, February 2005 "Table 4. Employed Contingent and Noncontingent Workers by Occupation and Industry, February 2005," in Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 2005, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 27, 2005, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/conemp.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)

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TABLE 2.7
Employed contingent and noncontingent workers by occupation and industry, February 2005
[Percent distribution]
Characteristic Contingent workers Noncontingent workers
Estimate 1 Estimate 2 Estimate 3
Note: Noncontingent workers are those who do not fall into any estimate of "contingent" workers. Detail may not sum to totals due to rounding.
SOURCE: "Table 4. Employed Contingent and Noncontingent Workers by Occupation and Industry, February 2005," in Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 2005, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 27, 2005, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/conemp.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)
Occupation
    Total, 16 years and over (thousands) 2,504 3,177 5,705 133,247
    Percent 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Management, professional, and related occupations 28.4 30.7 35.9 35.2
    Management, business, and financial operations occupations 5.5 8.0 8.7 14.6
    Professional and related occupations 22.8 22.6 27.2 20.6
Service occupations 17.3 17.6 15.7 15.6
Sales and office occupations 24.3 22.5 20.6 26.0
    Sales and related occupations 4.9 6.0 5.7 12.1
    Office and administrative support occupations 19.4 16.5 14.8 13.9
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations 16.5 16.7 16.1 10.2
    Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations 2.4 2.0 2.1 .5
    Construction and extraction occupations 11.4 12.3 11.1 5.8
    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 2.7 2.4 2.9 3.8
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 13.6 12.5 11.7 13.1
    Production occupations 4.5 4.0 5.2 6.8
    Transportation and material moving occupations 9.1 8.5 6.5 6.2
Industry
    Total, 16 years and over (thousands) 2,504 3,177 5,705 133,247
    Percent 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Agriculture and related industries 2.5 2.3 1.7 1.3
Mining .7 .6 .4 .4
Construction 13.0 14.0 12.3 7.2
Manufacturing 6.7 6.0 6.4 11.9
Wholesale trade 3.2 2.9 2.2 3.2
Retail trade 6.4 6.7 6.4 12.4
Transportation and utilities 5.0 4.7 3.7 5.3
Information 1.6 1.3 2.1 2.3
Financial activities 1.4 2.6 3.1 7.7
Professional and business services 18.2 20.7 18.2 9.7
Education and health services 23.5 21.8 27.1 20.8
Leisure and hospitality 10.1 8.9 7.4 8.1
Other services 5.0 5.3 4.9 4.7
Public administration 2.8 2.3 4.0 4.9

In February 2005, 14.8 million people, or 10.7% of the total workforce of 139 million, could be categorized in four alternative arrangement categories. Independent contractors comprised 10.3 million people (7.4% of total workforce), followed by on-call workers (2.5 million; 1.8%), temporary help agency workers (1.2 million; 0.9%), and contract company employees (813,000; 0.6%). (See Table 2.9.)

Workers with alternative arrangements were less likely than workers with traditional arrangements to be enrolled in school in February 2005, according to the BLS. About one-quarter (26.6%) of independent contractors aged sixteen to twenty-four with alternative work arrangements, 41.4% of on-call workers with alternative work arrangements in that age group, 4.7% of temporary agency workers, and 13% of contract company workers were enrolled in school in February 2005, compared with 44.1% of sixteen- to twenty-four-year-old workers with traditional arrangements. (See Table 2.10.)

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