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Fall 2005 Vol. 49, Number 3

Preferences of workers in alternative arrangements

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For some workers, employment roads less traveled are the only way to go.

Current Population Survey data show that as many as 14 million people—about 11 percent of all workers—were employed in alternative arrangements in February 2005. Unlike most traditional work arrangements, alternative arrangements do not always guarantee steady or lasting work. But they often have other advantages, such as variety, flexibility, or greater control over work schedules and assignments.

The chart shows the three categories of alternative employment arrangements for which data on worker preferences are collected. These data indicate which workers are happiest with their alternative arrangements. Independent contractors were the most likely to prefer their arrangement over a traditional one. Independent contractors provide a product or service to customers they obtained on their own. These workers enjoy a large degree of autonomy, as most are self-employed; they also tend to have higher-than-average earnings, which may add to the appeal of their jobs.

Not all workers in alternative employment arrangements favored their situations. Some workers may accept an alternative arrangement, particularly over the short-term, when they are unable to find a traditional job. This might explain why more than half of all temporary workers reported that they would prefer traditional employment.

Data are from the February Supplement to the Current Population Survey. For more information, write to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Labor Force Statistics, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE., Room 4675, Washington, DC 20212; call (202) 691-6378; or visit online at

Preferences of workers in alternative arrangements, February 2005 (percent)

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: December 7, 2005