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Apr 10 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, invites comments to OMB by May 10, 2023 regarding the Contingent Worker Supplement (CWS) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) to be conducted in July 2023.

The proposed Contingent Work Supplement (CWS) to the Current Population Survey questions focus on contingent workers—those who do not expect their jobs to last or who report that their jobs are temporary—and workers in alternative employment arrangements, such as independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency workers, and workers provided by contract firms. Although the CWS was fielded 5 times from 1995 to 2005 and then in May 2017, there have been no comparable and reliable statistics in recent years to show how the number and characteristics of these workers are changing over time. The July 2023 CWS will allow researchers and policy makers to evaluate how the number and characteristics of these workers has evolved. BLS is proposing to add new questions and remove outdated questions to the CWS. New questions on task-based and app-based work are designed to provide insight into additional work arrangements like digital labor platform work. This new content replaces the 2017 items on electronically-mediated employment. The 2023 supplement will also ask about work arrangements on second jobs for multiple jobholders.

Because this supplement is part of the CPS, the same detailed demographic information collected in the CPS will be available on respondents to the supplement. Comparisons will be possible across characteristics such as sex, race and ethnicity, age, and educational attainment of the respondent.

The CWS will provide information on the number and characteristics of workers in contingent jobs and alternative employment arrangements. Although the CWS was fielded 5 times from 1995 to 2005 and then in May 2017, there have been no comparable and reliable statistics in recent years to show how the number and characteristics of these workers are changing over time. The July 2023 CWS will allow researchers and policy makers to evaluate how the number and characteristics of these workers has evolved. Policy makers also can use these data to inform the design of regulations for different types of workers.

BLS is proposing to add new questions and remove outdated questions to the CWS. New questions on task-based and app-based work are designed to provide insight into additional work arrangements like digital labor platform work. (This new content replaces the 2017 items on electronically-mediated employment.) The 2023 supplement will also ask about work arrangements on second jobs for multiple jobholders. Our data users noted the absence of information about second jobs as a particular shortcoming of prior supplements.

These updated questions will provide researchers and policy makers with much-needed data about an emerging group of workers, while balancing the desire to maintain historical comparability.      

Because the CWS has not been conducted since 2017, there has been a dearth of high-quality data in recent years on workers in contingent and alternative work arrangements. With the advent of new business models, there is great interest by researchers and policy makers in knowing how many of these types of workers there are and whether the labor market has undergone structural change. Lawmakers need accurate data to design regulations and policies to adequately protect these types of workers. In addition, more information is needed about emerging types of work arrangements: specifically, those in which workers are using digital labor platforms. The CWS will provide much-needed information on these types of work arrangements. This information--in combination with other information collected in the CWS and the monthly CPS, such as earnings and health insurance coverage--will help guide lawmakers to determine if new policies or regulations are needed to protect these and other types of workers.

2018 CWS release https://www.bls.gov/news.release/conemp.toc.htm
CWS Census Bureau https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/time-series/demo/cps/cps-supp_cps-repwgt/cps-contingent.html
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202212-1220-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-07432

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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