Study: It's uncertain whether gig economy helps or hurts traditional work
- A Brookings Institute study doesn’t show whether Uber, TaskRabbit or other gig business models are complementing or suppressing traditional or payroll work, Mark Muro writes for the Wall Street Journal. Researchers said study results were inconclusive.
- The research did show that the gig economy is expanding and at least substituting or slowing the growth of payroll work. The study found that gig work is serving consumers’ unmet demands or generating new demands that are opening up opportunities for complementing traditional work. The rise of Uber complementing taxi-cab companies is an example. The study also showed that payroll work increased in the taxi-cab and hotel industries between 2010 to 2014.
- A downside for the gig industry, according to the study, is the lack of some legal protections that payroll work has enjoyed since the New Deal. Gig workers, including independent contractors, temp workers and freelancers, don’t have income security such as Social Security and other retirement benefits, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance or disability coverage. And anti-discrimination and minimum wage laws might not protect them, the study notes.
Several Uber workers have come forth with litigation in recent weeks, further complicating labor relations in the age of the gig economy. The drivers want protection for their wages and some of the same benefits as workers. Success for these drivers would mean that other gig workers could lodge the same or similar charges against employers.
Many employers have come to rely on independent contractors, temp workers and freelancers to supplement work. But they might also need to protect themselves from gig workers’ claims with written contracts detailing responsibilities and expectations of gig workers.
- Wall Street Journal Is the Gig Economy Cannibalizing or Creating Jobs? Here’s Some Early Evidence.