Study: Alternative Workers Like What They Do

May 16, 2001 ( - The number of US workers in "alternative work arrangements" - independent contractors, etc. - has remained about the same over the past five years and many such employees continue to prefer their professional lifestyle.

That was the conclusion of a recently released 1999 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the US Labor Department. The BLS surveyed the 9.3% of workers in alternative work setups in 1999 – down slightly from the 9.8% of workers in 1995.

The sense of professional satisfaction was not uniform across the board, Labor Department economist Marisa DiNatale said in an article published in a BLS magazine. Temps and on-call workers were much less satisfied than contractors were, DiNatale said.

Get more!  Sign up for PLANSPONSOR newsletters.

While about 84% of independent contractors said in 1999 they wanted to keep what they had and not go to a traditional setup, fewer than half of on-call workers didn’t want a change.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Alternative workers tended to work part time; DiNatale said that could be because women working as temps or on-call workers are more likely to have children than women in other work arrangements.
  • Temps tended to be young, black or Hispanic, and female. Nearly three-fifths of workers with alternative arrangements were women.
  • Male temps tended to be laborers while female temps were mostly in administrative and clerical jobs.
  • Independent contractors stayed with a job the longest; 43% had the same job for at least 10 years.

Contractors actually earned more than their traditional counterparts. In the 1999 survey, contractor pay was 19% higher than those in traditional jobs.