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No Shortage of 'Nonstandard' Jobs

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Publication Date: December 1999

Publisher(s): Economic Policy Institute

Author(s): Ken Hudson

Topic: Labor (Labor conditions, wages, salaries, and benefits)

Type: Brief


Even in the midst of a booming economy, with wages rising and unemployment at historic lows, reliance by the U.S. economy on nonstandard jobs -- part-time work, independent contracting, temping, on-call work, day labor, and self-employment -- remains as strong as ever.

Employers argue that these jobs (also called contingent work) provide the flexibility needed to be competitive. But these perceived advantages notwithstanding, as of 1997, most nonstandard workers, on average, were paid less, were less likely to receive health insurance or a pension, and had less job security than workers in regular full-time jobs.

The disparities between nonstandard and regular full-time jobs persist even when comparing workers with similar personal, educational, and job characteristics.