The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) added four questions to the May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement. These questions were designed to measure an emerging type of work—electronically mediated work, defined as short jobs or tasks that workers find through websites or mobile apps that both connect them with customers and arrange payment for the tasks. After extensive review, BLS determined that these questions did not work as intended and had a large number of incorrect 'yes' answers. To eliminate these false positives, BLS manually recoded the data using verbatim responses available only on the confidential microdata file. Using these recoded data, BLS estimates that electronically mediated workers accounted for 1.0 percent of total employment in May 2017. In the interest of transparency, BLS is releasing both the collected data and the recoded data.
This article describes the process of developing the four questions and summarizes the evaluation of the data, the recoding of the data, estimates of electronically mediated workers, and lessons learned.