In a highly anticipated measure of the “gig economy,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today issued a news release on its May 2017 survey of Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, which was last conducted in February 2005. Its conclusion? Contingent work declined over that 12-year span. Moreover, contingent work has declined since the 1995 inception of the BLS study.
BLS defines contingent work as jobs that workers do not expect to last. In May 2017, BLS says, 3.8% of workers—5.9 million persons—held contingent jobs. In February 2005 it was 4.1%. In February 1995 it was 4.9%.
The alternative employment arrangements studied by BLS included independent contractors (6.9% of workers), on-call workers (1.7%), temporary help agency workers (0.9%), and workers provided by contract firms (0.6%). Given BLS methods, the American Staffing Association has historically combined the last two categories as temporary and contract employees, which would be approximately 1.5% of the workers in BLS’s study. The percentages for these two categories were unchanged from 2005 to 2007, according to BLS.
Separately, BLS measures temporary help agency workers in its monthly establishment survey, which shows 2.9 million employees in the staffing industry in May 2017, or 2.0% of the nonfarm workforce—up from 1.7 million (1.5%) in February 1995. The association’s own quarterly establishment survey, which was initiated in 1992 when BLS ceased measuring temporary help services in the 1990s, indicates that staffing employment has increased from 2.2 million in the first quarter of 1995 to 3.1 million in the second quarter of 2017.
“Rather than bringing clarity in sizing the gig economy, the BLS study raises questions because it’s inconsistent with ASA industry data that show significant growth in flexible work arrangements,” said Steve Berchem, ASA chief operating officer. “Puzzlingly, this study shows no change for over a decade.”
# # #
About the American Staffing Association
The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit americanstaffing.net.
ASA Staffing Index Monthly Report, August 2018 The ASA Staffing Index for the week of Aug. 6–12 strengthened by 0.7% to a rounded value of 101—the third consecutive week the index has reached record highs for their comparable weeks. This also marks the first time the index has reached a rounded figure of 101 before… More ›
Economic activity increased across all 12 Federal Reserve districts, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s latest report on regional economies (known as the “beige book”). The pace of growth was split between modest and moderate. Employment growth was modest, and labor markets were tight. Employers in many districts struggled to find qualified workers, and these… More ›
Staffing Job Growth Trend Continues Temporary help employment edged up 0.5% from October to November, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Staffing firms added 14,300 jobs in November, which was 1.9% higher than November 2015. Over the past six months, year-to-year job growth has averaged 1.6% per… More ›
ASA Staffing Index Monthly Report, April 2016 Staffing employment for the week of April 11–17 edged up to 94.62, according to the ASA Staffing Index— the highest value this year. Temporary and contract staffing employment was up 0.38% from the prior week, and was 2.71% lower than the same week last year. This week, containing… More ›
Top 10 List of Occupations Difficult to Fill The American Staffing Association’s Skills Gap Index identified the hardest-to-fill occupations in the U.S. for the third quarter of 2015, with the 10 most difficult being Podiatrists Photographic process workers and processing machine operators Occupational therapists Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers Psychiatrists Forest fire inspectors and prevention… More ›
Top 10 List of Occupations Difficult to Fill The American Staffing Association’s Skills Gap Index identified 181 hard-to-fill occupations in the U.S. for the 12 months ended March 2015, with the 10 most difficult being Occupational therapists Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers Physical therapists Photographic process workers and processing machine operators Occupational therapy assistants Speech-language… More ›
ASA Staffing Index Monthly Report, December 2014 ASA Staffing Index Continues to Climb Staffing employment for the week of Dec. 8–14 rose to 107.54, according to the ASA Staffing Index—the highest value since the index’s inception in June 2006. Temporary and contract staffing employment increased 0.40% from the prior week, and was 4.18% higher than… More ›