Low-Income and Low-Skilled Workers Involvement in Nonstandard Employment. Characteristics of At-Risk Workers In Alternative Work Arrangements

10/01/2001

Our examination of the CPS data reveals that workers who are at risk of welfare recipiency by either of our two definitions are more than twice as likely to be in alternative work arrangements as are other workers (Table 3.2). Although there appears to be no observable trend in the proportions of either former public assistance recipients or workers from poor families who are agency temps, there is a slight increase in the proportion of the former who are on-call workers.(51)

Table 3.2
Prevalence of Alternative Work Arrangements
(weighted % in each work arrangement)

Work Arrangement

1995 1997 1999

All Workers

Agency Temps 0.8% 1.0% 0.9%
On-Call Workers 1.6 1.6 1.7
Regular Workers 84.1 84.9 85.9

Public Assistance Recipients

Agency Temps 2.2% 1.4% 2.3%
On-Call Workers 2.1 2.2 3.2
Regular Workers 85.6 86.8 85.6

Workers Below 150% Poverty

Agency Temps 2.5% 2.2% 2.3%
On-Call Workers 2.9 3.2 3.2
Regular Workers 79.9 82.2 80.7

Source: Current Population Survey, matched February to March

It is worth noting that at-risk workers who get jobs in alternative work arrangements do not differ much from at-risk workers who get standard jobs--they have similar education levels and age distributions (Table 3.3). However, the education level of these workers is very low--over one-third are high school dropouts; three out of four have a high school education level or less. The only salient difference is the sex of the workers: in 1995, over half of at-risk temporary workers were male, but by 1999, this had fallen to less than one-third. In comparison, among at-risk workers in regular employment, roughly 44 percent were male, and this remained relatively unchanged between 1995 and 1999. There are some substantial differences in the industry in which at-risk workers work, however. In particular, at-risk workers in temporary help employment are almost twice as likely to be employed in the service sector than at-risk workers in regular employment, and one sixth as likely to be in trade.

Table 3.3
Characteristics of Workers Below 150% Poverty
  1995 1997 1999
  agency temps on-call workers regular workers agency temps on-call workers regular workers agency temps on-call workers regular workers
Age
16-24 24.3% 20.4% 25.8% 29.4% 26.1% 25.7% 33.4% 27.6% 25.7%
25-54 64.9 69.0 66.8 65.1 61.0 67.2 62.6 61.8 67.2

Sex

Male 51.2% 42.9% 46.6% 50.8% 46.3% 45.9% 30.8% 48.0% 43.9%

Education

Less than HS Diploma 33.5% 26.4% 30.8% 25.5% 33.2% 28.8% 29.5% 36.5% 29.4%
HS Diploma 43.2 33.8 38.5 36.8 41.2 40.4 38.1 35.4 37.3

Number of Jobs Held

More than one 8.1% 8.9% 5.5% 7.7% 5.9% 5.2% 5.1% 5.2% 4.5%

Industries

ag/mining/fishing 2.4% 7.4% 3.7% 2.0% 7.9% 4.0% 1.1% 14.5% 2.7%
construction 5.6 16.1 5.4 1.8 20.3 4.7 4.5 10.0 5.3
manufacturing 24.5 6.8 15.6 21.0 9.4 16.0 26.4 3.4 14.2
transp/commun/utils 4.0 2.4 4.6 2.1 2.0 4.1 2.6 3.8 5.2
trade 5.8 17.4 30.6 6.2 15.6 31.6 1.2 19.5 32.4
services 57.0 44.9 35.5 65.4 38.2 36.4 63.2 41.0 37.0
other 0.7 5.0 4.5 1.6 6.6 3.2 0.9 7.8 3.2

Source: Current Population Survey, matched February to March