The use of a contingent workforce – staffing with temporary or contract workers – is growing in the U.S. according to a new national study that interviewed 225 human resource managers and 2,035 employed adults. As the economy remains sluggish, it may become an even bigger factor in shaping the future American workforce.

The study revealed that two out of three companies use contingent workers now and 71 percent of organizations cited the flexibility that contingent staffing gives them as a help during economic ups and downs. That has them looking to do more contract hiring. One in five companies plans to increase its percentage of temporary or contract workers in the next year.

For employers, it means having more financial  flexibility, if and when conditions change.

For employees, it can mean less security, but more freedom.

Workers are also choosing contract positions more often, as well:

– 31 percent liked the flexibility of their schedule.

– 28 percent said the money was better.

– 21 percent said it gave them more control of their career.

By and large, most contract workers are pleased with their jobs, the study found. For example, 73 percent  rated their growth potential with their current employer as good or excellent.

Also, a higher percentage of temporary or contract employees reported high job satisfaction than did permanent workers.