For some workers,
employment roads less traveled are the only way to go.
Current Population Survey data show that as
many as 14 million people—about 11 percent of all workers—were
employed in alternative arrangements in February 2005.
Unlike most traditional work arrangements, alternative
arrangements do not always guarantee steady or lasting work.
But they often have other advantages, such as variety,
flexibility, or greater control over work schedules and
The chart shows the three categories of
alternative employment arrangements for which data on worker
preferences are collected. These data indicate which workers
are happiest with their alternative arrangements.
Independent contractors were the most likely to prefer their
arrangement over a traditional one. Independent contractors
provide a product or service to customers they obtained on
their own. These workers enjoy a large degree of autonomy,
as most are self-employed; they also tend to have
higher-than-average earnings, which may add to the appeal of
Not all workers in alternative employment
arrangements favored their situations. Some workers may
accept an alternative arrangement, particularly over the
short-term, when they are unable to find a traditional job.
This might explain why more than half of all temporary
workers reported that they would prefer traditional
Data are from the February Supplement to the
Current Population Survey. For more information, write to
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Labor Force
Statistics, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE., Room 4675,
Washington, DC 20212; call (202) 691-6378; or visit online