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Flexible Staffing Arrangements

A Report on Temporary Help, On-Call, Direct-Hire Temporary, Leased, Contract Company, and Independent Contractor Employment in the United States

Susan N. Houseman
August 1999

5. Characteristics of Workers in Flexible Staffing Arrangements

Table 2 provides data on the characteristics of workers in flexible staffing positions. As is evident from these figures, the distribution of worker characteristics varies considerably across arrangements. Agency temporaries, on-call workers, and direct hire temporaries are disproportionately female and young. A disproportionate number of agency temporaries are black or Hispanic while a large percentage of on-call workers are high-school drop-outs. In contrast, independent contractors and contract company workers are disproportionately male, older, more educated, and, in the case of independent contractors, white.

Table 2. Characteristics of Workers by Working Arrangement (in percent) [Text Version]

 

Agency Temporaries

On-call or Day Laborers

Independent Contractors

Contract Company Workers

Other Direct-Hire Temporaries

Other Self Employed

Regular Employees

Gender

Male

44.7

49.6

66.6

70.0

48.1

61.6

52.3

Female

55.3

50.4

33.4

30.1

51.9

38.4

47.7

Age

16-19

6.1

9.5

0.8

2.0

16.0

0.5

4.9

20-24

16.5

12.0

2.4

8.6

20.6

2.4

10.0

25-34

30.3

22.6

18.3

34.7

23.5

15.7

26.1

34-44

21.5

25.5

31.1

30.1

17.7

28.2

28.0

45-54

16.2

14.3

26.5

14.6

12.4

26.1

20.3

55-64

6.7

9.7

13.9

7.8

6.7

17.2

8.8

65+

2.8

6.4

7.0

2.2

3.2

9.9

2.0

Race/Ethnicity

White

63.3

75.9

83.5

74.1

70.3

88.4

75.1

Black

20.8

7.5

5.3

13.7

9.6

3.2

11.1

Hispanic

12.3

13.6

7.3

6.7

11.4

4.2

9.9

Other

3.6

3.1

4.0

5.5

8.6

4.2

3.9

Education

High School

13.3

20.2

9.4

8.8

15.8

10.2

12.5

High School

31.7

27.4

29.8

36.7

20.6

30.7

32.9

Some College

36.5

30.3

26.7

24.4

32.3

24.9

28.9

College+

18.5

22.0

34.1

30.1

31.3

34.2

25.6

Source: Author’s tabulations from February 1997 CPS Supplement on Contingent and Alternative Work Arrangements.

Workers in most flexible staffing arrangements were asked about their satisfaction with the type of arrangement. Figure 2 plots the percentage of workers indicating that they preferred a different arrangement, by staffing arrangement. Agency temporaries and direct-hire temporaries were asked if they would prefer a job that is permanent or that would last for more than a year. On-call and day laborers were asked if they preferred a job with regularly scheduled hours. Independent contractors were asked if they would prefer to work for someone else. Contract company workers were not specifically asked if they preferred a different arrangement, but they were asked if they had searched for a job as something other than a contract worker and the percentage responding affirmatively to this question is reported in Figure 2. However, the percentage of contract company workers actively looking for another type job likely understates the percentage that would prefer a job as something other than a contract company worker.10 Seventy percent of agency temporaries and over half of on-call workers and direct-hire temporaries indicated that they were dissatisfied with their work arrangement. In contrast, only 10 percent of independent contractors indicated that they were dissatisfied with their arrangement. Table 3 shows the occupational and industrial distribution of employment by work arrangement. Several interesting patterns emerge from these data. While it is not surprising that a disproportionate work as operators and in the manufacturing sector.

Figure 2 - Percent Preferring a Regular Work Arrangement [Text Version]

Percent Preferring a Regular Work Arrangement

Table 3. Occupation and Industry Distribution of Employment by Work Arrangement (in percent) [Text Version]

 

Agency Temporaries

On-call or Day Laborers

Independent Contractors

Contract Company Workers

Other Direct Hire Temporaries

Other

Self- Employed

Regular Employees

Occupation

             

Executive, Adm.

6.9

2.7

20.7

8.6

7.6

24.1

13.7

Professional

6.6

20.9

17.9

20.3

26.5

13.0

15.1

Technical

5.8

4.0

0.8

6.8

3.2

0.7

3.6

Sales

1.7

6.6

17.9

3.0

5.3

20.7

11.3

Administrative Support

34.1

8.6

3.9

5.5

20.2

5.4

15.8

Services

9.0

20.2

9.1

28.4

15.2

10.0

13.6

Precision Production

5.2

15.0

17.9

19.7

8.6

7.5

10.5

Operators

17.1

2.2

1.6

1.8

4.0

1.7

7.0

Transportation Occupations

3.5

8.5

4.4

2.5

1.6

1.6

4.3

Laborers

8.6

8.6

0.8

3.3

4.8

0.6

3.8

Farming & Forestry

1.6

2.8

5.1

0.2

2.9

14.7

1.4

Industry

             

Agriculture

0.0

3.3

5.7

0.0

2.3

15.3

1.3

Mining & Construction

4.0

16.3

20.9

6.0

9.1

5.8

5.3

Manufacturing

33.8

5.3

4.8

19.3

7.2

6.3

18.6

Transportation, Communication, Utilities

7.3

8.1

5.1

14.0

3.5

3.7

7.4

Trade

21.7

14.1

13.6

12.7

11.5

26.2

21.1

Finance Insurance & Real Estate

7.8

1.6

8.4

7.6

2.6

5.4

6.6

Services

25.5

47.5

41.1

24.6

57.5

37.1

34.6

Public Administration

0.0

3.8

0.2

13.8

6.2

0.0

5.1


Source: Author’s tabulations from February 1997 CPS Supplement on Contingent and Alternative Work Arrangements.

Table 4. Government and Private Sector Employment by Work Arrangement (in percent) [Text Version]

 

Government

Private

 

Total

Federal

State

Local

Profit

Non-profit

Agency temporaries

3.5

--

--

--

94.0

2.6

On-call or Day laborers

23.2

1.7

3.5

18.0

72.8

4.1

Contract company workers

21.8

--

--

--

73.2

5.1

Other direct-hire temporaries

31.9

5.0

15.9

10.9

56.6

11.6

Regular employees

16.2

3.0

4.3

9.0

78.1

5.7

Source: Author’s tabulations from the February 1997 CPS.

(10) Workers in other flexible staffing arrangements were also asked if they had actively searched for a job in a different arrangement. The number actively searching for a job in a different arrangement tended to be much smaller than the number stating that they would prefer work in a different arrangement.

(11) In Table 3, the industry public administration captures some, but not all of public sector employees. Many public sector employees work in the services sector, for example, for public hospitals and public schools.

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