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124 Monthly Lab. Rev. 28 (2001)
Characteristics of and Preference for Alternative Work Arrangements, 1999

handle is hein.journals/month124 and id is 248 raw text is: Characteristics of and preference for
alternative work arrangements, 1999
Characteristics of individuals employed in alternative
work arrangements were similar to those of the 1995 and 1997
surveys; however, the proportion of these workers who prefer
these arrangements has increased since the mid-1990s

The proportion of the workforce consisting
of independent contractors, on-call work-
ers, temps, and contractors is small, and
the shares of these workers are not growing, ac-
cording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1999
Contingent and Alternative Work Arrangements
Survey.' In 1999, workers in all four alternative
arrangements combined accounted for 9.3 per-
cent of total employment, compared with 9.9 per-
cent in 1997 and 9.8 percent in 1995. Although
independent contractors remained the largest
group numerically, their share of total employ-
ment declined slightly between 1997 and 1999.
The proportions of total employment comprised
of the other three arrangements changed little
over the period. (See exhibit I and table 1.) Alter-
native work arrangements are defined in exhibit 1.
Perhaps the most significant finding from the
1999 data is that more workers in alternative em-
ployment arrangements are choosing these ar-
rangements. Data on preference for the arrange-
ments show that more workers actually prefer
their alternative work arrangements to traditional
jobs. This was true overall for on-call workers,
and for temps and independent contractors with
3 or fewer years of tenure. Furthermore, among
the four groups, enormous diversity exists in
terms of demographics, earnings, benefit cover-
age, and preference for the arrangements.
This article uses the data from the 1999 Con-
tingent and Alternative Work Arrangements
supplement to the February Current Population

Survey (CPS) to address several issues relating to
job quality and how or if it has changed since the
prior surveys. In 1995 and 1997, the arrange-
ments differed widely from each other in their
demographics, preferences, and pay. Although
it may be tempting to lump these arrangements
together, a clear distinction can be drawn among
them in terms of job quality and satisfaction. In
particular, independent contractors and workers
provided by contract companies have very dif-
ferent experiences from both on-call and tempo-
rary help agency workers.
Since the mid-i 980s, some employment ana-
lysts have debated the issue of the size and
growth of the workforce in nonstandard or al-
ternative employment arrangements. Is a grow-
ing trend in nontraditional employment arrange-
ments an indication that more American workers
are being forced into bad jobs?2 Some ana-
lysts stereotype workers who are in alternative
arrangements as being in substandard jobs, of-
ten citing low earnings, low rates of health insur-
ance and pension coverage, job instability, and
dissatisfaction with work.' These concerns have
ushered in a host of articles and debates on the
topic. Proponents of the arrangements argue that
these jobs provide much needed flexibility in a
tight labor market for both employers and em-
ployees. They claim that these arrangements
enable employers to more easily modify their hir-
ing levels and cost effectiveness when demand
for their goods or services fluctuates.4 On the

28  Monthly Labor Review  March 2001

Marisa DiNatale
Marisa DiNatale
is an economist in the
Office of Employment
and Unemployment
Statistics, Bureau of
Labor Statistics.

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