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American Life Panel

What is it measuring?

The number of workers who report being engaged in alternative work arrangements as their main job, including temp-agency, on-call, contract-company and freelancing work. In addition, the survey asks about online platform participation, industry, and income level.

What does it tell us?

The original analysis estimated that 15.8 percent of the workforce held an independent work arrangement as their main job the prior week, including freelancing, temp-agency, contract-company, and on-call work. In 2019, the authors released a revised paper, adjusting for cyclical effects and methodological differences, and estimated that the rise in alternative arrangements between 2005 and 2015 was 1 to 2 percentage points, rather than 5.

How is it collected?

The survey was administered through the RAND American Life Panel, an online panel recruited using a compilation of methods, including a group recruited for the University of Michigan Internet panel, a random-digit-dial sample, and a snowball sample. There were 3,850 responses, and a response rate of 63.9 percent. Results were weighted to increase representativeness.

Who collects it?

Economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard and Alan Krueger of Princeton contracted RAND to collect the data as part of its American Life Panel.


The results are not fully comparable to the BLS CWS, due to differences in sampling and response, as discussed by the authors in the 2019 working paper.

How to access this data?

RAND ALP data are available to registered researchers.