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Appendix B: Summary of June 10, 2019, Workshop
Pages 115-158

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From page 115...
... B.1. THE POLICY CONTEXT FOR MEASURING ALTERNATIVE WORK Following an overview of the study charge by the panel chair, Susan Houseman, Session 1 examined the policy context for measuring alternative work.
From page 116...
... Senator Mark R Warner, kicked off the session, discussing legislative developments relating to alternative work.
From page 117...
... Senator Warner's office also wanted the study to address how employers and organizations, which include independent contractors, comply with the tax system. Complications may be especially acute for form 1099-K earnings (introduced through the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act)
From page 118...
... As they do this they are making a series of assumptions about what the alternative worker population looks like, either through a tax lens, a worker-benefits lens, or an employer classification lens. The data piece is particularly important for these policy makers, she believes, as they attempt to build a consensus on how to move forward in a way that is helpful to this population of workers.
From page 119...
... Within this taxonomy, it is apparent that nontraditional work includes a wide variety of job types and occupations. They fall under five BLS categories: part-time, on-call, temporary help agency, contract employee, and independent contractor.
From page 120...
... SOURCE: Fitzpayne and Steward presentation. FIGURE B-1 The nontraditional work landscape.
From page 121...
... Available data suggests to Fitzpayne that these challenges have been felt particularly acutely by nontraditional workers, including temps, subcontracted workers, and independent contractors. This problem might be addressed by several approaches, including one put forward by the Future of Work Initiative as a promising solution in today's labor market: portable benefits that can be taken from job to job.
From page 122...
... When thinking about measurement objectives, those considerations should be part of the overall picture. Strain agreed that worker benefits and tax compliance are important measurement objectives, along with wages, but he urged the committee to also consider the perspectives of businesses, both platform companies and businesses that employ contractors and contingent workers.
From page 123...
... He was optimistic that recommendations from the Commission's report, The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking, would spur progress among the principal statistical agencies to improve measurement by combining data sources. Beach reported that the agencies were trying to design the right kind of guidance language and inspirational vision statement to do this.
From page 124...
... Lambert discussed measurement challenges and the need to inform public policy around work-hour standards. She advocated the benefits of a multidimensional approach to estimating the prevalence of different types of work arrangements, especially those common at the lower end of the labor market.
From page 125...
... Recently, items have been added to the NLSY-97 and the 2016 GSS that allow researchers to partly identify the magnitude and direction of fluctuations in weekly work hours, the extent of advance notice, and input into the number of hours. Respondents are asked, for example: What are the greatest number of hours you worked in a week in the last month, and what are the fewest number of hours you worked (not counting illness and vacation)
From page 126...
... . Almost a quarter of workers reported that volatility that was at least 25 percent of their usual hours; about 11 percent reported that their hours varied in the last month by more than 50 percent of their usual hours.
From page 127...
... The Healthy Work Design and Well-Being Program defines standard work arrangements as fulfilling specific job conditions for the worker. These are employee status; secure, career oriented; adequate and stable pay; inclusion of health insurance and retirement benefits; regular, full-time schedule; adequate schedule flexibility; and paid leave.
From page 128...
... Bushnell reported that the self-employed generally express a high degree of satisfaction with their work arrangement, but they also experience a work-related fatality rate that is four times as high as the conventionally employed. To better track these trends, NIOSH supports the idea of including on surveys a question on receipt of 1099-K tax forms or other means to identify misclassified workers, or simply to identify workers who consider themselves employees but are paid as independent contractors.
From page 129...
... The CWS is useful for estimating the potential magnitude of work arrangement risks and the industry and occupation "location" of specific work arrangements. The CWS currently asks respondents if they are "registered with more than one temporary help agency last week?
From page 130...
... MBO Partners provides an end-to-end business management platform for independent workers and the enterprises with which they engage. Collaborating with the firms Emergent Research and Rockbridge Associates, MBO Partners has been conducting research on the independent workforce for about 9 years.
From page 131...
... Zaino's view was that companies are using independent workers not just for cost reasons, but also for agility and for competitive advantage. The MBO Partners perspective is that policies are needed that reflect economic realities and that do not restrain independent workers and the global advantage of U.S.
From page 132...
... It is these characteristics, rather than the type of work arrangement, that should shape the measurement objectives, Kalleberg argued. Panel Chair Susan Houseman asked Lambert, who had made a compelling argument for collecting data on irregular, unpredictable work schedules, if there was value-added to including such questions on the CWS, given that the information is collected on various other surveys such as the GSS and the NLSY.
From page 133...
... INSIGHTS ABOUT ALTERNATIVE WORK FROM OTHER (NON-BLS) SURVEYS Building on what was learned from BLS experts during the panel's first meeting, this session included presentations intended to help the panel assess the range of questions that can best be answered using household surveys and to identify which questions require other kinds of data, such as those derived from employer surveys, administrative/tax records, and commercial sources.
From page 134...
... Income can result from selling an old bicycle on eBay, yet that is not generally the kind of economic activity that official statistics try to capture. Strain added that asking questions about why people engage in alternative work is very useful for understanding the labor market, and also because the variety of reasons have very different policy implications.
From page 135...
... Berchem defined staffing companies as those that employ temporary and contract workers. In 2018, sales for the industry -- which includes temporary and contract staffing as well as permanent placement services -- amounted ­ to around $167 billion.
From page 136...
... However, the ASA survey includes temporary and contract workers only and does not include the corporate employees of staffing companies themselves, unlike the BLS. Berchem believes that the BLS surveys miss some contract employment, and pointed to two pieces of evidence: First, BLS estimates that the temporary help services industry employs about 2.5 million workers while ASA estimates a little over 3 million, even though BLS includes the corporate employees of staffing companies.
From page 137...
... . Next, Leif Jensen of Penn State University presented survey-based research exploring urban-rural variation in informal work activities.
From page 138...
... , the fraction shrank to closer to one-third. Table B-2 indicates the percentages of households reporting various categories of informal work performed; households could report more than one.
From page 139...
... 12.6 12.7 12.3 12.7 11.8   Crafts, collectibles, or sew/do alterations 8.9 8.8 9.2 10.4 7.6   Other informal work not mentioned 8.3 8.4 7.4 8.1 6.4   Accounting or computer work 7.4 7.5 6.7 7.8 5.1   Give lessons(e.g., music, language, sports) 7.0 7.0 7.0 6.8 7.2   Breed, board, or tend non-farm animals 4.6 4.6 4.4 4.7 4.1   Clerical work (e.g., typing)
From page 140...
... The goals of this research are to assess how well household surveys capture various types of contract and informal work and to inform ways in which household surveys might be improved to better measure these activities. Houseman's comments focused on a subset of objectives for field ing the Gallup module: to uncover the potential for miscoding workers' employment status as "employees" in surveys such as the CPS and CWS; to capture all forms of work for pay -- including informal work that may not be reported in government surveys, especially when not associated with a primary job; to measure contract company work; and to better measure work secured through online platforms or mobile apps.
From page 141...
... The Gallup survey, particularly in the work supplement module, may be better designed to capture work activity than other household surveys, like the CPS, because all respondents are asked both whether they were employed by an employer and whether they were self-employed. Additionally, question wording in the standard Gallup survey is designed to capture low work hours by asking about work for an employer or self-employment that occurs "even minimally like for an hour or more." The Gallup self-employment question provides a more expansive definition of self-employment than is used in most household surveys.4 Houseman reported that their survey module also revealed a striking level of multiple job holdings -- that is, of working for more than one employer in the prior 7 days.
From page 142...
... definition similar to that used in the CWS, the percentage of contract company workers was estimated to be 2.0 percent. For version 2, the percentage was 1.4 percent, a statistically significant difference.
From page 143...
... Second, the findings from this research illustrate the potential of question wording to affect responses and support certain concerns about household surveys like CPS and CWS. Specifically, individuals working in contract arrangements may be miscoded as employees; surveys may miss some work activity, especially secondary jobs; measuring online intermediated work is difficult; and there is substantial confusion over payments coordinated by
From page 144...
... Dmitri Koustas, University of Chicago, led off the session, presenting his research exploring what can be learned about alternative work arrangements from tax data. He also commented on his analyses, using personal financial service data, of the income, spending, and liquid assets of rideshare drivers.
From page 145...
... One is that, for the tax workforce -- defined as people who get a W-2 and file a form 1040 or a form 1099, or get a W-2 and don't file -- expansion of 1099 work in recent years has been driven almost exclusively by work in the online platform economy. A second finding is that most 1099 work and almost all online platform work supplement primary W-2 jobs.
From page 146...
... already require reporting at the $600 threshold, although they do not share these data with the IRS. Mike Udell and Diane Lim, from the District Economics Group, continued the discussion of the role of tax data in measuring alternative work arrangements.
From page 147...
... Rather, it is income that is taxed, and income is equal to gross proceeds minus the cost of goods sold minus general, sales, and administrative costs. As Udell framed the issue, one might wonder what this has to do with contingent and other alternative work arrangements.
From page 148...
... During open discussion of the session on administrative data, Abraham asked Udell whether there could be modifications to the tax code to gain insights into how alternative work activities fit into people's work lives. For that purpose, data on whether people have this type of income would be needed, not just covering aggregates but on a person-by-person basis.
From page 149...
... Spletzer said his own informal calculations suggest that based on this rule, perhaps 60 to 70 percent of the records in the May 2017 CWS should be linkable to administrative data housed at the Census Bureau, such as unemployment insurance (UI) wage records, Social Security Administration Detailed Earnings records, and nonemployer records.
From page 150...
... Census Bureau, U.S. Department of the Treasury, CPS data, BLS website, and CPSASEC.
From page 151...
... Each administrative data source indicates that the number of unincorporated self-employed is rising over time and substantially higher than the number of unincorporated self-employed measured in household surveys. The paper examines what is driving this difference by source in measured self-employment by linking the CPC ASEC to the SSA's detailed earnings records.
From page 152...
... Olson argued that the mismatch between the household survey data and the tax data is partially due to measurement error, in that people are not classifying things appropriately. She added that specifying the right probing questions would be helpful, but there is also a more fundamental issue about whether or not people see the work that they are doing, regardless of the source of payment, as being under the umbrella of what they consider to be their job.
From page 153...
... OPEN PUBLIC SESSION 9:00 AM Welcome, Introductions, Agenda, and Reminder of the Study Charge -- Susan Houseman, Panel Chair 9:15 SESSION 1: POLICY CONTEXT FOR MEASURING ALTER NATIVE WORK. This session features presentations to help the panel round out its thinking about measurement objectives.
From page 154...
... Recently, the team has written on portable benefits, tax simplification for independent workers, and worker training tax credits. The Institute has recently released the report, "Designing Portable Benefits: A Resource Guide for Policymakers." -- Alastair Fitzpayne, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative; Shelly Steward, Research ­Manager, Future of Work Initiative Open discussion 10:30 SESSION 1 (continued)
From page 155...
... -- Gene Zaino, Chief Executive of MBO Partners Open discussion 1:15 PM SESSION 2: INSIGHTS ABOUT ALTERNATIVE WORK FROM OTHER (NON-BLS)
From page 156...
... What can be learned about alternative work arrangements from tax data?
From page 157...
... . Mike and Diane will discuss the advantages and limitation of using tax data to measure various categories of alternative employment (including the size and scope of the platform economy)


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