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GAO Contingent Workforce Report: Size, Characteristics, Earnings, and Benefits

U.S. Government Accountability Office (05/20/15)

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on “contingent workers,” which was broadly defined to include more than 40% of the 2010 workforce. GAO included agency temps, contract company workers, day laborers, direct-hire temps, independent contractors, on-call workers, self-employed workers, and standard part-time workers. In analyzing demographics, GAO narrowed its definition to “core contingent,” which it estimated at nearly 8% of the workforce. GAO noted, however, that temporary help employment accounts for only 1.5% to 2% of jobs. GAO did no separate analysis of temporary help employment.

According to GAO, so-called core contingent workers are more likely to be younger, Hispanic, have low household incomes, and are less likely to have a high school diploma. They are more likely to experience job instability, and be less satisfied with their benefits and employment arrangements. GAO also concluded that their employment arrangements may afford fewer worker protections and cause greater reliance on public assistance.