When we think of the gig economy, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft come immediately to mind. However, it’s much bigger than that. The US Department of Labor actually breaks down the four main types of alternative work arrangements into independent contractors, on-call workers, temp workers and workers employed by contract firms.
Since 2005, the number of workers in alternative arrangements has climbed by more than half, rising to nearly 16 percent of the workforce from 10 percent a decade ago, according to new research by Alan Krueger of Princeton University and Lawrence Katz of Harvard University. But the on-demand workforce (i.e. companies like Uber) employs only about 600,000 people or less than 0.5 percent of the workforce, the research found.
Krueger and Katz hired Rand Corporation to replicate their survey, sampling roughly 4,000 people. The findings showed how alternative work has spread across industries and occupations—including those not usually associated with the gig economy. For example, they estimated the share of workers in alternative arrangements has more than doubled to 11 percent in manufacturing and to 16 percent in health and education. It has quintupled, to 10 percent, in public administration.
For more about the professional contract workforce, visit the SilkRoad blog.