Workers At Risk:

Increased Numbers in Contingent Employment Lack Insurance, Other Benefits

HRD-91-56: Published: Mar 8, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO analyzed Bureau of the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data concerning the contingent or nontraditional work force, which includes self-employed, part-time, and leased employees.

GAO found that: (1) the number of nontraditional workers should continue to grow over the next several years due to employer and worker interest in such work arrangements; (2) nontraditional workers had fewer economic protections than did traditional full-time employees; (3) part-time workers earned less per hour than full-time workers in the same occupations and industries; (4) families headed by part-time workers were more likely to have incomes below the poverty line and to rely on public assistance than families headed by full-time workers; (5) part-time workers, particularly single parents, were more likely than full-time workers to lack health insurance coverage from any source; (6) most part-time workers received no pension benefits from their employers, and only about 10 percent of part-time workers were included in their employers' pension plans; (7) if terminated, many workers in nontraditional employment would find it either difficult or impossible to collect unemployment benefits; (8) federal labor laws extended only limited protection to many nontraditional workers; (9) long-term use of nontraditional workers could reduce the competitiveness of U.S. firms; and (10) limited data on contingent workers limited analysis of problems such workers may face and the related policy consequences.