Topics and Data

Automotive Industry

Outsourcing in the auto industry has grown, changing the nature of employment relationships and the relationships between suppliers and lead firms in the sector. Issues explored here include recent trends, motivations behind outsourcing and effects on workers.

Online Platform Work

Businesses such as Uber, DoorDash, and Task Rabbit classify workers using their platform not as their own employees but as independent contractors exempt from most labor standards protections, minimum-wage laws, collective bargaining rights, anti-discrimination protections, and access to unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation. We examine the scope of online platform work and whether such arrangements are good for workers.

Health and Safety

The changing character of employment arrangements has significant implications for occupational health and safety. This page explores how use of contract workers and other nonstandard arrangements has brought uncertainty around responsibility for worker training and safety-related communication and has complicated accident liability.


Today’s logistics sector is dramatically different from that of decades ago. Many of the jobs once done in-house are now outsourced, largely to cut costs, and this change in employment structure has been associated with lower wages, higher turnover and less-safe workplaces. We explore recent trends in logistics and their implications for workers.

Lower-Wage Service Jobs

Custodians, security guards and food service workers are rarely central to large employers’ main business. As firms increasingly refocus on “core competencies,” they have outsourced these jobs first. This page considers trends in outsourcing lower-wage service jobs, motivations behind the decisions and effects on wages.

Public Sector

Governments at all levels have long contracted with the private sector to obtain certain goods and services. In recent decades, the trend has accelerated while expanding from basic services, such as trash collection, to more complex and technical services, such as highway engineering. We monitor trends and assess results.

Contract Work Module

The Contract Work Module was designed to improve the information available on contract employment—including independent contractors and contract company workers—by asking questions that address the miscoding and underreporting problems with standard household survey questions. The Upjohn Institute contracted with the Gallup organization to add module questions to the Gallup Education Consumer Pulse Survey, a large, nationally representative telephone survey. Read more and access the questionnaire and data.