The Gig Economy

March 18, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 12
Is the trend toward non-staff employees good for workers?
By Eugene L. Meyer


Dog walker John Aron (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Kathryn Scott Osler)
Dog walker John Aron has his hands full in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood. Today's gig economy offers a lifeline to laid-off workers who must take whatever part-time jobs they can find, while other independent workers like the freedom of being their own boss. (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Kathryn Scott Osler)

Enabled by the digital revolution, employers increasingly are outsourcing work to contractors and self-employed or part-time workers, many working off-site thanks to apps and Wi-Fi. Supporters of the so-called gig economy say it gives workers flexibility and freedom to work anytime and anywhere and allows struggling companies to survive and healthy firms to compete globally. But labor unions say outsourcing exploits workers and undermines the economy by allowing companies to replace full-time employees with lower-paid workers without guaranteed hours, income or benefits. And millions of laid-off workers must cobble together multiple jobs as independent contractors. On-demand gig workers, such as Uber drivers, are protesting their lack of benefits, while Uber lobbies local and state governments to exempt it from “old economy” wage and labor laws. Recently, however, some employers have begun hiring full-time employees with full benefits again, largely because of the high turnover rates and recruitment costs associated with the gig economy.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 06, 2020  Universal Basic Income
Mar. 18, 2016  The Gig Economy
Mar. 06, 2012  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 31, 2009  Straining the Safety Net
Apr. 10, 2009  Business Bankruptcy
Mar. 13, 2009  Vanishing Jobs
Apr. 25, 2003  Unemployment Benefits
Jan. 21, 1994  Worker Retraining
Sep. 09, 1988  Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill
Mar. 18, 1983  The Youth Unemployment Puzzle
Dec. 24, 1982  Federal Jobs Programs
May 28, 1982  America's Employment Outlook
Jun. 27, 1980  Unemployment Compensation
Oct. 14, 1977  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 11, 1975  Underemployment in America
Dec. 16, 1970  Unemployment in Recessions
Mar. 05, 1965  Unemployment Benefits in Times of Prosperity
Apr. 03, 1964  Overtime Pay Rates and Unemployment
Feb. 01, 1961  Unemployment and New Jobs
Jan. 07, 1959  Lag in Employment
Apr. 16, 1958  Emergency Jobless Aid
May 16, 1956  Lay-Off Pay Plans
Nov. 12, 1953  Jobless Compensation in Boom and Recession
Feb. 25, 1949  Defenses Against Unemployment
Jul. 30, 1945  Full Employment
Nov. 25, 1940  Unemployment Compensation
Jul. 10, 1939  Problem of the Migrant Unemployed
May 19, 1936  Unemployment and Recovery
Sep. 02, 1931  Public Employment Exchanges
Aug. 19, 1929  The Stabilization of Employment
Feb. 21, 1928  The Employment Situation in the United States
Jan. 23, 1926  Unemployment Insurance in the United States
Data and Statistics
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Employee Benefits
Labor Standards and Practices
Outsourcing and Immigration
Small Business
Unemployment and Employment Programs
Unions and Labor-Management Relations