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Contingent Workers Bolster California Work Force

  Who are the Contingent Workers?
  Contingent Job Characteristics
  Hours and Earnings

Individuals working in flexible work arrangements provide a vital part of California's workforce, especially during tight labor markets.  In California, when the unemployment rate goes down, the demand for people willing to work in temporary jobs and/or flexible work hours seems to go up.  This occurrence indicates a tighter labor market, as employers try to find qualified workers for jobs that offer only short-term employment.  Flexible work arrangements provide employers with a way to identify and evaluate trainable workers prior to hiring them on a permanent basis.  They also create opportunities for less experienced and less skilled workers to break into the workforce and develop job skills.  Data collected by a supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) indicates that the need for this type of flexible work arrangement (also called "contingent work") is consistently greater in California than in the nation (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 is a chart showing the share of California and U.S. workers who are contingent workers.

Several factors explain why California has a greater percentage of contingent workers than the nation.  These factors include:
  • Youthful population
  • Significantly higher proportion of foreign-born residents
  • Abundant supply of workers that have less than a high school education
  • Industry mix that requires a considerable amount of seasonal type work

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