According to a recent (October, 2015) Washington Post piece, we’re doing a terrible job of measuring the modern workforce because we’re working with data from 2005.
Very often these days, when a tech leader is asked how the government could help people adapt to the “gig economy,” the answer is frustratingly basic. “It’s crazy that we’re having this debate with 10-year-old data,” Marco Zappacosta, chief executive of a platform called Thumbtack, said at an event a few weeks ago. “We need to know what the trends are, because I think it would show that it’s a much bigger phenomenon than tech.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does take stock of temporary jobs (gigs), but the data hasn’t been updated since 2005. Without data on how many temporary, part-time, and contract jobs, we only have anecdotal evidence—and Internal Revenue Service numbers do show that income from workers who use 1099 tax forms is increasing. The Department of Labor is convening a symposium later this year to figure out how to get better, but in the interim we’re relying on growth for companies like Uber, Lyft, Favor, Etsy, ELance, TaskRabbit, etc.
The Guardian reported on the rise of the gig economy over the summer, positing that the digital revolution is partially responsible and it may not be entirely positive.
Today, more and more of us choose, instead, to make our living working gigs rather than full time. To the optimists, it promises a future of empowered entrepreneurs and boundless innovation. To the naysayers, it portends a dystopian future of disenfranchised workers hunting for their next wedge of piecework.
The Atlantic calls it “the Industrial Revolution of our time.”
Today, careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/coworking spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.
From our perspective, we’ve seen the “Gigs” search listings on Jobs2Careers.com skyrocket over the past couple of years, and so has our “Part-Time” job search, but with nowhere near the frequency of gigs. From a post-recession recovery job seeker’s perspective, gigs are something we can do in our “off” hours (or in between traditional jobs) to make some extra cash. It’s a boom economy for the do-it-yourself entrepreneur (and even Amazon is nudging in on Etsy’s game…) and it gives a lot of people the freedom to earn (and work) as much or as little as they’re able. We call that “freedom.” Check it out for yourself here!