The so-called gig economy is actually slightly smaller than it used to be, according to a new Labor Department report released Thursday that chronicles the jobs market in the age of Uber.
In May 2017, the Labor Department counted 5.9 million people, or 3.8% of workers, in what it calls contingent jobs that work for a staffing agency, which are those that the workers don’t expect to last or that workers call temporary.
In 2005, the last time the government looked into the issue, there were 4.1% of workers who classified themselves this way.
“Taken at face value, the results indicate that the role of non-traditional work arrangements in the U.S. economy has remained largely unchanged during the past 20 years, even as excitement and media coverage of the growth of the ‘gig economy’ has increased,” said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist for The Conference Board.
“This should throw some cold water on those hyping the explosion of freelancing and the rapidly changing nature of work,” added Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute.
One key caveat: the government is measuring the job in which they usually work the most hours. The government notes it is still evaluating survey data on a question of those who found short tasks or jobs through a mobile app or website.
Other classifications of these kinds of alternative arrangements either declined or stayed the same.
Other highlights of the report:
• Contingent workers were more than twice as likely to be under 25 years old;
• More than half of these contingent workers would prefer a permanent job;
• Young contingent workers were far more likely to be enrolled in school than younger noncontingent workers;
• There was a big gap in earnings depending on alternative working arrangements. In May 2017, median weekly earnings were highest for contract company workers ($1,077). Earnings for independent contractors ($851) were roughly similar to those for workers in traditional arrangements ($884), while earnings for on-call workers ($797) and temporary help agency workers ($521) were lower;
• While these workers were less likely to have employer-provided health insurance, they were by and large covered by some other source, including from another family member, through a government program or buying on their own;
• Access to retirement programs, however, was much worse—while 51% of those in traditional arrangements had access to employer-provided pension or retirement plans, 48% of contract company workers, 35% of on-call workers and just 13% of temporary help agency workers did.
A job at a Staffing Agency is often a great foot in the door to a permanent job position. Benefits may be less at the time, but the options that a Staffing Agency like Great Hire Human Resources provides often lead to a permanent position within an organization.
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