Contractors and Gig Workers: New Evidence from Improved Surveys
Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CST)
- Chair: Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Understanding Non-Traditional Work Arrangements in the United States
AbstractThis paper examines non-traditional work arrangements in the United States over 1997-2019 using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a longitudinal biennial survey that has included over 10,000 families and 24,000 individuals. We use machine learning to leverage internal data collected in the PSID on respondent narratives on industry and type of work as well as respondentsâ€™ employer names. The approach classifies work arrangements into several categories including informal self-employment, formal self-employment, business ownership, and wage and salaried employment. Preliminary findings show disparate trends in the share of workers engaging in different types of self-employment work arrangements that would otherwise be masked. We find that, between 2003 and 2019, total self-employment rose but that this trend varied by type of self-employment. The share of workers in formal self-employment fell, but an increasing share of workers found work as business owners or through informal self-employment, though with different patterns. For business owners, a marked increase following the Great Recession has subsequently nearly returned to pre-recession levels, while informal self-employment has increased steadily since 2011. Further results suggest that, compared to those in other work arrangements, the informal self-employed generally tend to be less educated, are less likely to be male and non-Hispanic White, have less labor income, and have worse measures of wellbeing. Our findings also suggest that a slightly more male, and substantially more racially and ethnically diverse population has entered platform gig work.
Characteristics of Gig Workers in the U.S.: Evidence from the Entrepreneurship in the Population Survey
AbstractThis paper presents new results from the Entrepreneurship in the Population (EPOP) Survey, a new nationally representative survey of entrepreneurship and gig work activities across the U.S. In addition to a series of questions on the pathways to entrepreneurship, the survey collects information from all respondents on current work activities and whether respondents are part of the â€œgig economy.â€ Importantly, in addition to asking about general involvement in gig work, respondents are also asked more specifics about the name of the gig work platform and whether the platform is an online app. Using responses, our analysis provides a variety of measures of gig work in the U.S. For example, using the broadest measure of gig work that asks respondents if they engage in work that uses a platform to coordinate payment, 18.91% of respondents report that they engage in gig work. Using a more restrictive definition that limits gig workers to only respondents using an online platform app, we estimate 7.12%of individuals are engaged in gig work. Regardless of definition, respondents report that flexibility and supplementing pay are important reasons for engaging in gig work. We conclude with discussing future directions for the research and other potential uses of EPOP data.
The What and How of Measuring Electronic Platform Work
AbstractRecently, there has been a great deal of interest by researchers, policy makers and the general public in electronic platform workers â€“ a specific form of contract work. However, despite this interest, measuring electronic platform workers has presented unique definitional and operational challenges. This paper lays out 8 dimensions of work that could be considered when constructing a measure of platform workers - 1) the location of workers and customers (i.e. in-person versus completely online), 2) the types of customers for whom the work is done (i.e. peer-to peer, peer-to business, business-to-business), 3) the type of activities to include based on the amount of labor services embodied in these activities, 4) platform companies' control over workers and the assignment of work, 5) the time period during which workers engaged in platform activities, 6) the intensity with which workers engaged in platform work during a specified time period, 7) thresholds, if any, of the proportion of total personal income platform work earnings constitute, and 8) workers' commitment to working (i.e. registering to work without doing any work, number of hours of worked, frequency of work, when last worked) and the availability of platform work to them. The paper concludes with a discussion of lessons learned from various attempts to measure platform work. In this discussion there is a particular emphasis on BLS's first attempt to measure platform workers in the 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement and the subsequent design work done for the May 2023 Contingent Worker Supplement to the Current Population Survey. The latter includes a discussion of the results of cognitive testing of the questions and modifications that were made to proposed questions based on this testing.
- C8 - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
- C3 - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables