The 40 Percent

The 40 Percent

On-call, part-time, provisional, and non-permanent workers, freelancers, temporary contract workers, independent contractors and consultants. Put them all together and you’ve got about 40 percent of America’s workers.

It breaks down like this:

Agency temps: 1.3%
On-call workers (work when needed): 3.5%
Contract company workers: 3.0%
Independent contractors: 12.9%
Self-employed workers (shop owners, etc.) 3.3%
Part-time workers: 16.2%

It’s possible to define this group down and pretend that many of these under-employed, under-paid workers are “independent small business owners,” but that doesn’t make their lives any less precarious. Many contingent workers in this “1099 Economy” are also contingent social service clients.


“Shocker: 40% of Workers Now Have ‘Contingent’ Jobs, Says U.S. Government,” Elaine Pofeldt, Forbes

“New report shows over 40% of US workers are ‘contingent’ employees,” Justine Hofherr,

“The Upsurge in Uncertain Work,” Robert Reich, Guernica

“Contingent Workforce: Size, Characteristics, Earnings, and
Benefits [accessible version],” GAO-15-168R Contingent Workforce

“New Data Spotlights Changes in the U.S. Workforce,” Lauren Weber, Wall Street Journal

“The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty And The American Warehouse,” Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

“There’s No Such Thing as ‘The Gig Economy,'” Susie Cagle, Pacific Standard

“NLRB case asks who’s really the boss of subcontractors’ workers,” Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

“Temporary Workers in California are Twice as Likely as Non-Temps to Live in Poverty: Problems with Temporary and Subcontracted Work in California,” Miranda Dietz, UC Berkeley Labor Center

“Full-Time Work Is Harder to Find,” Justin Fox, Bloomberg View

“The Future of Work: Uniting Workers in the Gigging Economy,” Frances Zlotnick, Pacific Standard


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length

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