June 2019, Aaron Medlin and Hye Jin Rho

Note: This report was updated June 28, 2019. A previous version miscalculated the growth rate of total employment for young workers with a college degree (the growth rate was changed from 3.6 percent to 36.3 percent).

Nonstandard or alternative employment relations refer to employment by a temporary help agency or contract company or as an on-call worker or day laborer. We refer to these nonstandard employment relations (which involve an employer and employee) and independent contracting collectively as nonstandard or alternative work arrangements in this report. Contingent workers are workers who do not expect their job to last or who report that their jobs are temporary. Contingent workers and workers in alternative work arrangements are measured separately.

The May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement (CWS) provides an opportunity to examine how contingent work and nonstandard work arrangements have changed over the last two-plus decades. This report builds on earlier analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Economic Policy Institute, with special attention to how younger workers, ages 21 to 25, with a college degree and with less than a college degree, between 2005 and 2017. The report helps to develop a concrete picture of what has changed for this cohort, which can inform a research and policy agenda that will improve their opportunities in the labor market.

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