Electronically mediated employment

BLS added four new questions to the May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement. These questions were designed to measure an emerging type of work—electronically mediated employment, generally defined as short jobs or tasks that workers find through mobile apps that both connect them with customers and arrange payment for the tasks.


Notice

After extensive review, BLS determined that the new questions on electronically mediated employment did not work as intended and had a large number of incorrect "yes" answers. To eliminate these false positives, BLS manually recoded the data using additional information collected in the survey. BLS analysis uses the recoded data, which it believes to be superior.

A complete explanation, including the evaluation of the data and the recoding process, can be found in Electronically mediated work: new questions in the Contingent Worker Supplement. In the interest of transparency, BLS is releasing both the data as collected and the recoded data.

 

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Highlights of the May 2017 data on electronically mediated work

These are May 2017 estimates of electronically mediated workers as recoded by BLS. The estimates include all people who did electronically mediated work, whether for their main job, a second job, or additional work for pay.

  • In May 2017, there were 1.6 million electronically mediated workers, accounting for 1.0 percent of total employment. (See table 3.) These workers obtained short jobs or tasks through websites or mobile apps that both connected them with customers and facilitated payment for the tasks.
  • Of all workers, 0.6 percent did electronically mediated work in person and 0.5 percent did electronically mediated work entirely online. (See table 3.) Some people did both electronically mediated work in person and entirely online. This can occur when people do electronically mediated work for two different jobs.
  • Electronically mediated workers were slightly more likely to be men than women, reflecting the fact that, overall, a higher percentage of the employed were men. (See table 4.)
  • Compared with workers overall, electronically mediated workers were more likely to be in the prime-working-age category (25 to 54) and less likely to be in the oldest age category (55 and over). (See table 4.)
  • Electronically mediated workers were more likely than workers overall to work part time. Part-time workers are defined as those who usually work less than 35 hours per week at all jobs combined. (See table 4.)
  • Blacks or African Americans accounted for 17 percent of electronically mediated workers, higher than their share of overall employment (12 percent). By contrast, Whites made up 75 percent of electronically mediated workers, slightly lower than their share of workers overall (79 percent). Hispanics or Latinos made up 16 percent of electronically mediated workers, and Asians accounted for 6 percent. (See table 4.)
  • Blacks were overrepresented among in-person electronically mediated workers (23 percent), while Whites were overrepresented among online workers (84 percent). (See table 4.)
  • Compared with workers overall, people age 25 and over who did electronically mediated work were more likely to have a bachelorís degree or higher. This was driven by people who did their tasks entirely online; 67 percent of online electronically mediated workers age 25 and over had bachelorís degree or higher. (See table 4.)
  • Self-employed workers were more likely than wage or salary workers to do electronically mediated work (4 percent versus 1 percent). Five percent of self-employed workers whose businesses were unincorporated did such work, as did 2 percent of the self-employed with incorporated businesses. (See table 3.)
  • By industry, workers whose main job was in transportation and utilities were the most likely to have done electronically mediated work, with 5 percent of workers in this industry having done such work. Those employed in professional and business services, information, and other services on their main job were also more likely to do electronically mediated work, at 3 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent, respectively. (See table 3.)
  • Workers whose main job was in the transportation and utilities industry were more likely to do in-person work, and those in professional and business services and in information were more likely to do online work. (See table 3.)
  • Workers in the four alternative employment arrangements measured in the Contingent Worker Supplement were more likely than workers in traditional arrangements to have done electronically mediated work. Independent contractors were the most likely to do electronically mediated work—6 percent did so in May 2017, compared with 3 percent of temporary help agency workers, 3 percent of on-call workers, and 2 percent of workers provided by contract firms. By contrast, less than 1 percent of workers in traditional arrangements were electronically mediated workers. (See table 3.)

Note: These are estimates of electronically mediated workers as recoded by BLS. BLS believes these data to be superior because they exclude the obvious false positives in the collected data. However, because the questions did not work as intended and there was not enough information to recode all cases, there may still be limitations to the recoded data. In addition, some of these estimates are based on relatively few observations, so degree of error may be large.

The estimates include all people who did electronically mediated work, whether for their main job, a second job, or additional work for pay. These data refer to electronically mediated work done during the survey reference week (May 7 to 13, 2017). BLS did not ask how frequently people had done electronically mediated work or whether they had done it prior to the survey reference week.

 

 

CPS data on electronically mediated workers


Summary tables on electronically mediated workers

These are May 2017 estimates of electronically mediated workers as recoded by BLS. The estimates include all people who did electronically mediated work, whether for their main job, a second job, or additional work for pay.

  • Table 3. Electronically mediated workers by selected characteristics, in thousands, May 2017 (XLSX)
  • Table 4. Percent distribution of total employed and electronically mediated workers, by selected characteristics, May 2017 (XLSX)

Complete set of tables on electronically mediated employment


See also: Access to microdata

 

For more information about the electronically mediated employment data, contact the BLS Current Population Survey office at 202-691-6378 or by e-mail.

 

Last Modified Date: September 28, 2018