Are independent contractors a smaller percentage of workers? BLS data in context

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Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) provides excellent comments about the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) recent data that shows that 6.9% of the workforce were independent contractors. In 2014, Justin Fox reviewed the challenges of the various of measuring the independent workforce in Where Are All the Self-Employed Workers? including the challenge of multiple definitions for what it means to be independent. With respect to the BLS recent data, SIA writes:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data released yesterday showed independent contractors represented 6.9% of total employment in the US in May 2017, down from 7.4% when it last measured independent contractors in February 2005.

While that differs from other estimates — Staffing Industry Analysts says they comprise 15.5% of the workforce — Tony Gregoire, SIA’s director of research, the Americas, and others point to differences in how the BLS measures independent contractors.

For example, the BLS study included only people for whom being an independent contractor was their main job. That leaves out moonlighters and diversified workers.

In addition, the BLS study counts only those who self-identify as “independent contractor, independent consultant or freelance worker.” However, many may consider themselves business owners rather than independent contractors.

The BLS also hasn’t yet released data on those who find work through online staffing apps, and that could skew the figure. It plans to release those data in September.

Read the full story at  Are independent contractors a smaller percentage of workers? BLS data in context

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