The Department of Labor on Monday said it plans to revive a survey of “contingent” workers, which could shed new light on the scope of the so-called on-demand economy.
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez said in a blog post that the agency is working with the Census Bureau to run the Contingent Worker Supplement as part of a larger survey in May 2017.
It will be the first time that the survey has been run since 2005, when it was discontinued because of budgetary constraints.
Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerSunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Devin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Senators push Trump on defense deals with India MORE (D-Va.) praised Perez's announcement. Warner has become a leading voice calling for a safety net for workers in the on-demand economy who, as independent contractors rather than employees, lack certain benefits.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Observers of the on-demand economy have regularly noted that very little good data exists for understanding the phenomenon, which is being driven by the rise of companies such as Uber and Airbnb.
The announcement comes as Perez travels to Silicon Valley to talk about, among other issues, trends in the on-demand economy. Other issues discussed will include “inequality, minimum wage, paid leave and apprenticeships,” according to a Labor Department representative.
“The Secretary will be meeting with a wide array of stakeholders including venture capitalists, Silicon Valley executives, labor leaders and workers,” the representative said in an email.
Perez has recently become more active in the debate over security for workers in the on-demand economy but so far been careful not to endorse any particular policy proposals.
“On the one hand, there's plenty to be bullish about,” he said in December. “It's an exciting, tech-driven entrepreneurial development that's clearly tapped into powerful consumer demand.
“But the on-demand economy also brings old questions about labor standards and protections into sharper focus.”