June 17, 2021

Bring on the Popcorn—Watching Quickly-Shifting Contract Labor Markets

By Steven Williams
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One of the things I love about working at Brightfield is that every month brings reams of new data in the door on how companies are using contract labor right now.

I always feel like I want to pop up some popcorn and watch in real-time how these important labor markets are shifting.  Companies increasingly rely on non-employee workers to not only run their operations but also to build out critical new capabilities.  For many companies, contract labor is their second- or third-largest external spend category!

You may have seen our series of Extended Workforce Intelligence Reports that look at trends and developments in contract labor markets.

We just released a new Report this week, and some of the highlights are:

1. There are now 33% more contingent workers on the job in the US than before COVID

2. High demand is pushing up rates for specific IT, healthcare, and light industrial roles

3. Companies are paying 32% to 72% more than their competitors for the same work because companies are not keeping up with shifting local labor markets

4. Workforce suppliers are increasing their markups 9% to 16% on some software developer roles

All of this data ($400 billion and counting) not only lets us understand aggregate trends, but also lets us help individual companies and executives improve how they use contract labor.  Brightfield’s customers use the TDX analytic tools we have built on top of the data to:

• Perfect the structure around their contract labor work, roles, and suppliers

• Calibrate their contract labor rates and risks

• Improve supplier and buyer management

For example, Brightfield customers can automatically check their current contingent assignments’ bill rates against local markets (10,000 across 40 countries) along several dimensions:

1. Job Category

2. Job Title

3. Job Level

4. City/MSA

5. State/Province

6. Country

7. Source Type

8. Contract Length

Companies use this analysis to identify where they are paying significantly over-market and have potential cost-savings opportunities. TDX has even automated the workflow to alert specific suppliers where bill rates should be brought down, why, and by how much. TDX customers can also spot where companies are paying too little and creating costly time-to-fill, worker attrition, and/or worker quality problems.

COVID and the resulting recession and recovery are scrambling markets for contract labor, and I feel privileged to have a front-row seat (and popcorn).

I would be happy to hear your ideas for future topics of the Extended Workforce Intelligence Report.  Please contact me at swilliams@brightfield.com.

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