New GAO Report on Contingent Workforce Shows 85% of Independent Contractors Are “Content with Their Employment Type”

Pepper Hamilton LLP

A comprehensive government report on the contingent workforce made public two days ago revealed surprising data about independent contractors, finding that 85% of independent contractors “appeared content with their employment type.” Perhaps even more unexpected is that significantly more independent contractors (57%) were “very satisfied” with their jobs than those who held standard full-time employment (45%).  These and other statistical conclusions, which seem to counter viewpoints expressed by many legislators, government regulators, and commentators that wish to curtail the use of independent contractor arrangements in favor of employment relationships, were contained in a report released to the public two days ago by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, non-partisan governmental agency.

The report, entitled “Contingent Workforce: Size, Characteristics, Earnings, and Benefits”, was issued on April 20, 2014 and made public 30 days later on May 20, 2015.  It analyzes all types of contingent workers, from employees who work for temporary agencies to independent contractors and self-employed workers.  The report includes a number of specific empirical conclusions that focus on independent contractors, as discussed below.

The GAO’s Principal Findings Regarding Independent Contractors

1.  Independent contractors may comprise as much as 10% of the entire U.S. workforce. The report notes that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 31% of the entire U.S. workforce worked in alternative employment arrangements, which are oftentimes referred to as the “contingent workforce.”  (Table 3)  The report described the “contingent workforce” as a mixed group of (1) agency temps, (2) direct-hire temps, (3) on-call workers and day laborers, (4) contract company workers, (5) independent contractors, (6) self-employed workers, and (7) standard part-time workers.  The first four categories comprise what the report refers to as “core contingent workers” – all four of those categories totaled 5.6% of the workforce.  Independent contractors were found to comprise 7.4% of the total U.S. workforce while self-employed workers amounted to 4.4%. Both of these categories of workers, who are typically issued Form 1099s, comprised  slightly under 12% of the workforce.

The report acknowledged that “Labor experts have not reached consensus on which arrangements represent contingent work.”  The GAO Report therefore reports on data not only from the BLS study but also from other reliable sources of information about the contingent workforce.  One such source, as noted in the GAO Report, is the General Social Survey (GSS), a study that was conducted by the University of Chicago and released in March 2015. The GSS found that just over 16% of the workforce was comprised of independent contractors and self-employed workers. Thus, extrapolating from these two studies suggests that independent contractors alone may account for as much as 10% of the entire American workforce.

2.  Independent Contractors are more satisfied with their work arrangements than regular full-time employees. Four types of contingent workers were asked “Would you prefer a different type of employment?”  (Table 12) Approximately 50% of agency temps and on-call/day workers said they wanted a different type of work.  In contrast, under 10% of independent contractors and self-employed workers responded that they preferred a different type of work.  Conversely, whereas less than half of all temps and on-call/day workers said they would not prefer a different type of working arrangement, the GAO found that “more than 85% of independent contractors and self-employed persons appeared content with their employment type.”

In perhaps the most revealing statistic in the entire report, the GAO compared job satisfaction among non-contingent (traditional) employees and selected types of contingent workers.  It found that 45% of regular full-time workers were “very satisfied” with their jobs, whereas 57% of independent contractors were “very satisfied” with their working arrangement – a 25% higher job satisfaction rate for independent contractors. (Table 13) Likewise, fewer independent contractors said they were “Not at all satisfied” or “Not too satisfied” with their jobs than did regular full-time workers (8% vs. 9.5%).

These conclusions seem to undercut the popular notion by most commentators and many state and federal legislators and regulators that independent contractor status is contrary to the welfare and best interest of most 1099 workers including on-demand workers in the sharing or “gig” economy.  This presumption is based on the fact that workers in non-traditional working arrangements do not have job protections enjoyed by traditional employees, such as workers compensation and unemployment benefits, overtime pay and minimum wage, eligibility for employee benefits, the right to unionize, and the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace.  Nonetheless, the GAO Report seems to empirically rebut this presumption and the notion that workplace dissatisfaction is rampant among contingent workers.  Even the four types of working arrangements that comprise the category labeled as “core contingency workers” had a relatively low job dissatisfaction rate of under 20%.

3.  Most independent contractors and other contingent workers regard their fringe benefits as “good.” The relatively low job dissatisfaction rate among independent contractors and even among the four types of core contingency workers seems to be influenced in large part by yet another finding that runs counter to popular thinking: that contingent workers are unhappy about their level of fringe benefits.  The GAO Report finds that while fewer contingent workers than full-time standard employees “agreed that their fringe benefits were good,” 61% of independent contractors said their fringe benefits were good and 63% of the core contingency workers were satisfied with their fringe benefits.  (Table 11).  This result suggests that the definition of “fringe benefits” may be elusive and depend on the respondents’ point of view.  Contingent workers as a whole, including independent contractors, may well regard a flexible work schedule and the ability to choose or reject work engagements to be as valuable a fringe benefit as regular full-time workers regard paid vacation and sick days.

4.  Independent contractors are more likely to be older, male, White non-Hispanic, and college-educated than those who hold standard full-time jobs. The GAO provides an extensive statistical analysis of the demographics of the contingent workforce including independent contractors and compares them to traditional full-time workers.  (Enclosure IV)  Here are a few notable demographic findings:

  • Whereas the average age of full-time regular employees is 41, the average age of independent contractors is 46.
  • While only 2% of regular full-time workers are over 65 years of age, over 8% of independent contractors are of over 65; similarly, over 27% of independent contractors are age 55 and above, whereas just over 14% of regular full-time workers are over 55.
  • Men are far more likely to be independent contractors than women.
  • White, non-Hispanics are far more likely to be independent contractors than Blacks, Hispanics, and “Other non-Hispanics.”
  • Educational levels of independent contractors roughly mirror the educational levels of full-time regular employees.

5.  Contingent workers including independent contractors are found in virtually all industries, but some industries have more contingent workers than traditional employees. According to the GAO Report, the following industries were found to have more contingent workers than traditional employees:  construction; administrative services; educational services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; construction; and transportation and moving of commercial goods. (Table 22)  These industries where contingent workers are more prevalent are among those that the U.S. Department of Labor and state workforce agencies have targeted for investigations of workplace misclassification.

The GAO Report Does Not Address Misclassification of Independent Contractor as Employees, But the Need for Independent Contractor Compliance Is More Pressing Than Ever

Unlike past GAO reports that have dealt with the contingent workforce including independent contractors, this report barely mentions misclassification.  Yet, it has been our experience during the years we have been publishing this blog that many independent contractor relationships are not structured, documented, and implemented in compliance with federal and state independent contractor laws.

Those companies, governmental bodies, and non-profits that use independent contractors to supplement their workforce, and especially those ever-increasing number of on-demand companies in the sharing economy that are based on an independent contractor business model, all too often overlook the need to stay well ahead of curve when it comes to independent contractor compliance.  Even the most sophisticated and well-known enterprises have been caught in the ongoing crack-down on companies that have allegedly  failed to comply with an array of different independent contractor laws.  Such companies as FedEx, Uber, Lyft, Macy’s, Microsoft, Google, and Lowe’s are just a few of the many businesses that have been targeted by class action lawyers and government regulators for having allegedly failed to structure, document, and implement their independent contractor relationships in compliance with independent contractor laws.

As more fully described in the 2015 Update to our White Paper, those businesses that are reliant on independent contractors can meaningfully enhance their independent contractor compliance or minimize or eliminate independent contractor misclassification liability.  One methodology is IC Diagnostics™, a comprehensive proprietary process for companies seeking sustainable, practical, customized solutions to the risk of misclassification exposure. While this new GAO Report indicates that an overwhelming number of those individuals in independent contractor positions are content with that type of work arrangement, that does not mean that a company’s independent contractor relationships will pass legal scrutiny.  To achieve that result oftentimes requires a dedicated corporate resolve to restructure, re-document, and/or re-implement a company’s independent contractor relationships in a state-of-the-art manner consistent with applicable state and federal laws.

Written by:

Pepper Hamilton LLP

Pepper Hamilton LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at:

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.