Kay McGlashan, Rebecca Ellis and Doug Glasgow INTRODUCTION In this chapter, we examine the state of contingent and alternative work in the United States. The situation in the USA is not necessarily an increase in ﬂexible work, but a signiﬁcant change in the way that work is being arranged (Micco, 1999). Employee–employer contracts are more varied in design than the typical permanent work contract. The USA has also seen a tremendous growth in staﬃng services and alternative work agencies (that is, temporary help agencies, independent contracting ﬁrms, outsourcing), as a result of a changed ‘mindset’ about employment in the USA. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February 2001 approximately 4 per cent of workers considered themselves to be contingent workers, and 9.4 per cent considered themselves to be in alternative employment arrangements. We ﬁrst examine the larger labour market context in the USA, including a discussion of the general economic and employment trends during the 1990s. We then describe the institutional framework, including industrial relations and the legal framework and regulations surrounding employment. Next we turn to an in-depth examination of the existing data on the demand for alternative employment (that is, the distribution of these arrangements across general industry and occupational categories), as well as the supply of alternative employment (that is, demographic characteristics of gender, race, age, education, full-time versus part-time status, wages and beneﬁts, and worker preferences regarding employment arrangements). These data are taken from the special supplements to the...
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