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Labor Markets Center Newsletter - November 2018

This month, we released a new report that may surprise many business executives. We argue that the perception about the growth of the nontraditional workforce is out of line with hard data. By nontraditional, we refer to independent contractors, workers in the temp-help industry, and workers on premises employed by outsourcing companies.

The number of independent contractors earning income through online labor market platforms (Uber, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Amazon Mechanical Turk) has been growing. But these platforms are highly concentrated in certain specific occupations. Except for the transportation sector, the platforms represent only a tiny share of income and total hours worked in the US economy. In 2016, 50 percent of all job ads on a large labor platform were in occupations that comprised just 1 percent of US employment.

Our new report unpacks the forces constraining the growth of the nontraditional workforce and discusses the potential for online labor platforms to expand. We believe that growth in online labor platforms, while small, is likely to occur in the occupations they are currently concentrated in, such as computer services, artists and designers, language and writing-related workers, drafters, and clerical and office support occupations. Executives interested in considering online labor platforms should take notice.

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