There is a clear, long term shift in the U.S. economy towards contingent employment. This is the hiring of workers on a non-permanent basis, including the hiring of freelancers, temps, part-time workers, contractors, outsourcers and others who don't have full-time employment status.
It is a trend with profound implications for workers, families, businesses and the U.S. economy.
And whether you think this trend is good or bad, contingent workers will likely be a major part of next decade's labor force. The drivers behind this shift - lower costs, increased business flexibility, growing worker interest in contingent employment, technology, etc.- are simply too strong to easily reverse.
The New York Times article U.S. Cracks Down on "Contractors" as a Tax Dodge covers one of the major disputes around the growing use of contingent workers - money.
Federal and state governments claim they lose billions of dollars in payroll taxes due to under-reporting by contractors. They also claim they collect less in unemployment insurance and worker compensation taxes. Because of this, they are aggressively going after companies they feel mis-classify full time employees as contingent workers.
This issue has huge implications because: (1) companies of all sizes are increasing their use of contract workers; and (2) a growing number of people are choosing to work as independent contractors.
This used to be much simpler issue from the standpoint of the contingent worker - they almost always wanted to become full-time employees. But that has changed. A growing number of people are seeking the flexibility and work/life balance advantages contract work brings.
Many of these folks believe their contract wage rate, coupled with additional work freedom, more than make up for lost benefits. They also feel that being independent is actually more secure these days than full time employment.
With businesses and some workers on one side, and government and other workers on the other side, this is an issue that's not going to be easily resolved.