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The rise and nature of alternative work arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015

To monitor trends in alternative work arrangements, the authors conducted a version of the Contingent Worker Survey as part of the RAND American Life Panel in late 2015. Their findings point to a rise in the incidence of alternative work arrangements in the US economy from 1995 to 2015. The percentage of workers engaged in alternative work arrangements—defined as temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and independent contractors or freelancers—rose from 10.7% in February 2005 to possibly as high as 15.8% in late 2015. Workers who provide services through online intermediaries, such as Uber or TaskRabbit, accounted for 0.5% of all workers in 2015. Of the workers selling goods or services directly to customers, approximately twice as many reported finding customers through off-line intermediaries than through online intermediaries.