The Gig Economy

Gigs are jobs where a contractor performs a service for a company. A common example is ride-hiring gigs where people who need a ride hire a driver to perform the service.

These short-term jobs are classified as temporary or part-time. The workers are actually independent contractors, not employees of the companies they work through.

There are many disadvantages to this type of employment. They are low pay jobs and most of the fare the workers earn goes to the companies. Workers are on call where they receive a call either through their cell phone or a temp agency so the work is not necessarily consistent. Another disadvantage of this type of work is that it makes it difficult to plan events and family responsibilities when you are required to take a job at short notice. Also, workers have no unions, no health care or workers’ comp and no retirement plans.

There is also no severance package or unemployment benefits when a company up and leaves a city as happened in Austin with Uber and Lyft. 10,000 workers were left behind without anything to fall back on. The story is that the companies didn’t like having to comply with some basic city council rules. They failed with a petition action that got voted on and they packed up and left.

16 percent of workers are employed in gig jobs in the United States. This is an increase of six percent since 2006.

The information from this post is taken from an article by Jim Hightower “What Does It Mean To Gig American Workers?” in the Oklahoma Observer, June 2016, Volume 48, No. 6.

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