Press Releases

Sen. Warner Pushes for Federal Funding to Track Growth in the On-Demand Workforce

Urges appropriators to fund relaunch of Labor Dept. survey not conducted since 2005

Nov 16 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today urged congressional appropriators to provide funding to collect better, more complete data on the number and type of workers who are part of the growing on-demand or “gig” economy. Estimates of the on-demand workforce have found that as few as three million Americans and as many as 50 million are part of the contingent workforce.

“In order to help us consider policies to better support workers in this on-demand economy while also fostering even more innovation and entrepreneurism, it is crucial that we gather more accurate and timely information about trends and opportunities within the 21st Century economy,” Sen. Warner wrote in a letter to appropriators.  

“In September, I asked the U.S. secretaries of Treasury, Commerce, and Labor to assess existing tax, Census, and labor survey tools to see whether they might generate better and more relevant information about the size, scope, and characteristics of the millions of Americans who are choosing to participate in the on-demand economy,” Sen. Warner wrote. “Recent responses from these federal officials affirms that the most timely and effective way to gather relevant data to help policymakers understand and better facilitate this increasingly significant and growing on-demand workforce is to relaunch the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Contingent Worker and Alternative Work Arrangement Supplement (CWS) to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which has not been funded or deployed by the Department of Labor since 2005.”

Click here to read those responses from the Treasury, Commerce, and Labor Departments.

An April 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office noted that this is a significant and growing portion of the American economy, and better data could guide policymakers in developing smarter policies for the new economy. In FY 2016, the President requested $1.577 million for the BLS to conduct the CWS supplement to the CPS. The GAO has noted that while other surveys offer additional insight about the contingent workforce, the CWS is the most statistically robust and detailed study of workers in alternative employment arrangements.

Sen. Warner, an early investor in the wireless telephone industry, a cofounder of Nextel, and an investor in hundreds of companies which have created thousands of jobs, has committed putting forward practical solutions to keep up with this fundamental shift in the economy and to make the on-demand economy work better for more people.