profile: independent contractor (part 3 of 3).

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Part 3 of 3. Our 3-part series looks to explore the employment classification of today’s independent contractor and the trends influencing the increasing contingent workforce. These articles are published for information purposes only and do not constitute as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax assistance in employment classification, please consult with a legal or tax professional.


are you a freelancer? self-employed? do you call yourself a consultant?

In a day and age where the importance of employment classification is so critical and also so widely misunderstood, the answer to “What kind of worker am I?” may not be so easy to find. 

According to a blog post featured in the Harvard Business Review titled, “Where Are All the Self-Employed Workers,” the definition of an independent contractor varies not only in the way they personally classify themselves, but also in the way that they’re accounted for in surveys and censuses that report on how many independent workers there are actually working at a given time. 

the different classifications of independent contractors: 

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics: 14.4 million self-employed Americans (February 2014)
  • MBO Partners (provider of support services for independent workers): 17.7 million (2013)
  • Freelancers Union: 42 million independent workers (Taken from a 2006 Government Accountability Office report, which classifies contingent workers as “agency ‘temp’ workers, direct-hire temps, on-call workers, day laborers, contract company workers, independent contractors, self-employed workers and standard part-time workers.”)
  • Census Bureau’s annual tally of “nonemployer businesses,” which is taken from tax return data: 22.5 million (2011)

Industries independent contractors work can run the gamut of agriculture to retail trade, forestry to finance. Regardless of how they’re classified, it’s unanimous: the contingent workforce and the independent contractor are on the rise. 

Check out this video on the evolving temporary workforce.

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