Contingent Workers Total 51.5 million; Temps From Staffing Firms 8.5 Million, SIA Reports

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Contingent workers in the US numbered 51.5 million in 2020, according to a new report released this week by Staffing Industry Analysts.

The 2020 contingent worker count was down 4.6% from 54 million in 2019, according to the previous year’s report.

The SIA report includes as contingent workers those assigned by staffing firms, statement-of-work consultants and others.

Contingent workers were 35% of the nation’s workforce and generated $1.3 trillion in revenue.

The drop in the contingent worker count was attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. The drop was consistent with the decline in the overall workforce, according to the report.

“Temporary workers assigned by staffing firms and temporary employees sourced directly were the two groups experiencing the largest declines.”

The number of temporary workers assigned by staffing firms is estimated at 8.5 million, according to the report.

That number is higher than the 2 million to 3 million reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly jobs reports for 2020. However, SIA’s total reflects the number of workers throughout the year while the BLS number is a snapshot of one payroll period.

Gig economy workers — temporary workers hired via talent and work service platforms — (Uber Technologies, for example) numbered 9.6 million.

The largest share of contingent workers — 26.5 million — were self-employed workers with no employees.

There were 8.2 million temporary employees sourced directly without the involvement of a staffing fir. The number of SOW consultants employed by consulting firms was 1.4 million.

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