- The partial government shutdown could be translating to a swell in the gig economy. Some of the 380,000 furloughed or unpaid federal workers are signing up with Uber, Fiverr, Airbnb or TaskRabbit as second jobs, according to Packaged Facts, which published a new report, The Financial Services Market: Targeting Gig Economy Workers.
- Packaged Facts tracks and classifies the 76 million people who are supplementing their income as "side gig workers," whose second jobs range from selling goods online to dog walking. Among this group are sole proprietors or independent contractors without benefits, also defined as "non-benefit workers."
- Packaged Facts said that more people are being swept up in what it calls "changing, and often deteriorating, workforce dynamics" in these jobs since they do not offer benefits. As for what federal workers will do with their second gigs when they return to their main jobs, Packaged Facts said they can join either the working adults with side jobs or the non-benefit workers.
More workers reportedly are finding the gig economy an acceptable employment choice. A 2017 ManpowerGroup survey found that 94% of workers are open to nontraditional work options. Federal workers might feel compelled to find side jobs in the absence of pay for their work or because of their furloughed status, but some might decide to permanently join the gig economy. Gig workers now number 56.7 million, a rise of 3.7 million in five years, based on a study by Upwork and Freelancers Union.
Not only are more workers considering becoming independent contractors, freelancers, temporary workers and other names for contingent workers; 60% of HR managers said they're hiring more gig workers in a Korn Ferry survey released in September. Employers could have a bigger contingent pool of workers to hire, as more people join the gig economy.
But a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics disputes myriad studies on the growth of the gig economy, creating confusion about where it stands today. Some recent reports have also cast doubt on the changes gig economy companies have made on wider American society; The Atlantic has noted that many workers have likely always viewed gig jobs as a stopgap or income supplement. Employers, however, have come to rely on an aspect of the independent workforce in their mission to remain agile during labor market fluctuations, and workers continue to deal with stagnant wages and threats of layoffs, making supplemental income appealing.