Press Releases

Sen. Warner Applauds DoL Announcement on New Survey of Contingent Workforce

For the last year, Sen. Warner has been calling for better data on the on-demand workforce

Jan 25 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor that it will launch a new round of the Contingent Worker Supplement (CWS) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) – the gold standard of measuring who is doing what in the American workforce – for the first time since 2005:

"The last time the Contingent Worker Supplement was conducted was more than a decade ago. Since then, new technologies and on-demand platforms have allowed people to monetize their time, skills, cars and spare rooms in ways that have fundamentally challenged the 20th century social contract. If we are going to make this 21st century economy work better for more people while encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, it is crucial that we have better, more accurate data about who and how workers are participating in the on-demand economy. In the absence of designated congressional funds for the purpose, I'm pleased that Secretary Perez and the Department of Labor are working with the Census Bureau to prioritize the collection of more reliable data on this segment of the workforce."

Sen. Warner has been urging 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.

An April 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office noted that the contingent workforce 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. In the absence of a direct congressional appropriation for the CWS, Sen. Warner has also been urging federal agencies to use existing resources to prioritize the collection of data as it relates to the on-demand economy. 

In September 2015, Sen. Warner asked the U.S. secretaries of TreasuryCommerce, 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. Their responses confirmed 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). 

Today's announcement by the Department of Labor means that the CWS we will be collected as part of the May 2017 CPS for the first time since 2005.