The Shadow Workforce: Perspectives on Contingent Work in the United States, Japan, and Europe

The Shadow Workforce: Perspectives on Contingent Work in the United States, Japan, and Europe

The Shadow Workforce: Perspectives on Contingent Work in the United States, Japan, and Europe

The Shadow Workforce: Perspectives on Contingent Work in the United States, Japan, and Europe

Synopsis

This book provides an overview of the facts and issues of nonstandard employment in the countries where this labor market phenomenon has been most studied: the United States, Japan, and the European Union

Excerpt

Sandra E. Gleason Pennsylvania State University

As early as the mid-1970s, observers of private sector employment practices in the United States commented on an emerging new phenomenon: the increasing use of nonstandard workers—that is, employees who are hired under a variety of nonstandard arrangements without a permanent connection to an employer. These include part-time employment; hiring through temporary help employment agencies, such as “Kelly Girl” clerical services; self-employed consultants; employees leased, contracted, or subcontracted from business service firms such as advertising or janitorial firms; multiple-job holders; and day laborers.

Although companies historically have used nonstandard workers, the relatively rapid growth rate of these workers in a wide range of industries and occupations has become pervasive (see Nye [1998] for examples). At the time the change was identified, the available data made it difficult to measure exactly what was occurring, although the trend appeared to be similar in both the private and public sectors (see Light [1999] for examples in the federal government). Today we have better data but they provide disparate estimates of the extent of nonstandard employment.

Nonstandard employment arrangements have received increased attention due to several factors. First, ongoing changes suggest that the trend toward greater use of nonstandard employment is likely to continue. The restructuring of the economy in the post-World War II era in an increasingly global economy has continued. The pace of this change has been heavily driven by technological advances and the “information age,” and encouraged by the increase in the share of total compensation (i.e., wages and fringe benefits) represented by legally required benefits such as Social Security and nonwage benefits such as health care. These economic forces have encouraged employers to seek more options to control or reduce labor costs. Illustrative examples include . . .

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