More and more people turn to Odd job More than ever, but because these jobs usually have no employer benefits, their proliferation may exacerbate inequality for millions of Americans.
According to statistics, the number of people employed in non-traditional ways in the United States has increased to a record 51 million this year, an unprecedented increase of 34% compared with 2020. New data from MBO partners, A company that provides business solutions for independent labor, and has conducted long-term research on the group.These types of workers—including contract workers, self-employed workers, temporary workers, and on-call workers, as well as those who get short-term jobs through online apps or markets—now equal one-third U.S. employment.
Odd job Transfer risk from employer to employee And may cause financial fluctuations for those who do so, leading to more Economic and psychological pressure Than normal work. Most obviously, independent work does not include many of the protections provided by traditional employment. This includes minimum wages, overtime pay, paid parental leave, and employer-subsidized healthcare. If people’s odd jobs don’t have enough compensation to pay for these additional expenses independently, it will put people at a serious economic disadvantage compared with ordinary employees.
However, working independently has its advantages. To a certain extent, it provides employees with the flexibility to choose the content, time, and location of their work.
Although advocates and some policy makers are actively working to ensure the benefits of independent workers working full-time, progress has been piecemeal and non-linear.Californian The landmark bill AB 5 Let many contractors become employees and provide them with the same benefits-but shortly after signing into law, Proposal 22, A voting measure initiated by gig companies, passed and exempted many gig companies from having to consider their workers and employees. The battle in California is not over yet; in August, California Supreme Court declares Proposition 22 invalid And make it impossible to enforce, but the performance company said they will appeal.
At the same time, the process of independent work is still taking place.
Business registration growth for companies without employees (For example, individuals selling products on eBay or freelancers seeking graphic design jobs through Upwork) have already exceeded wage employment. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Freelancers Alliance, a non-profit organization that advocates and provides resources for a growing independent workforce, has increased its average weekly registration number by 300%.
Although independent work has increased in all employment situations, it is the fastest increase for people who work independently occasionally (regularly, but without fixed working hours per week). These teams increased by 51% to 24 million people. Many of them are doing jobs that are generally considered gig jobs: on-demand jobs from platforms such as Uber Eats or freelance websites.
Jobs found through online marketplaces are also important for part-time and full-time employees. Approximately 40% of independent workers report using online marketplaces to find jobs, up from 27% in 2020.
The rise of independent work has been happening for decades, for a variety of reasons, from the disintegration of traditional employment to the proliferation of online platforms that connect people to this type of work. Like many trends, it was accelerated by the pandemic—economic instability has historically increased independent work—but when the pandemic ended, it showed no signs of disappearing. Therefore, the proliferation of gig workers in the United States is something we should all be concerned about.
Why do people choose odd jobs?
Although fast Economic recoveryAccording to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed people in the US is still 6 million fewer than before the pandemic. Many of them had to resort to independent work—which is often missed by BLS data—to make up for it.
Other independent workers do have regular jobs, but these jobs cannot provide enough money. In the MBO survey, nearly three-quarters of new part-time independents stated that they are engaged in independent work to supplement their income.
“It’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet,” MBO board member and future job expert Steve King told Recode. “In our world, it is very challenging for many people to reach their monthly goals.”
Low wages are not the only disadvantage of traditional employment.
“In general, what we have seen in the past four and a half years is the huge erosion of workers’ leverage, leading to an unbelievably low quality of a large number of jobs in our labor market: low wages, low benefits, and poor working hours. , Bad working conditions,” Heidi Hillholtz, policy director of the Think Tank at the Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, told Recode.
Most independent workers (63%) believe that working independently is entirely their own choice. But Shierholz said that the choice is not because independent work is particularly good.
“We know the quality of these products [independent] They say the jobs they choose are usually very bad,” Shierholz said. “This means that their other choices are also very, very bad. “
Nevertheless, about 77% of independent workers in the MBO study said they were very satisfied with their arrangements, which was 10 percentage points higher than traditional workers.
Gig work is a way for people to better control the content of work, to choose working hours and locations more flexibly, and to better balance work and life.Benefits such as the ability to work remotely have become getting more popular During the pandemic, this prompted people to rethink the overall importance of work in their lives.Such work is for The person who takes care of the child Or the responsibility of taking care of the elderly, or the disabled who have difficulty in getting a normal job.
Adam Ozimek, chief economist of the freelance platform Upwork, told Recode: “I think one of the most important things is that working on online platforms does provide convenience for people looking for greater flexibility.” “Many people have tasted remote work this year. They see the flexibility that comes with it, and they want more.”
According to MBO, more and more traditional employees (29%) even believe that the risk of working independently is lower than their risk. Two-thirds of independent workers think so.
Independent work is sometimes easier to obtain. The rise of applications or platforms such as TaskRabbit and Fiverr makes the process of finding independent work less difficult by centralizing and simplifying the process of obtaining independent work.
Then there is the problem of misclassification that drives the growth of independent workers.There are more and more industries in fields such as construction and passenger cars Call their workers contractors instead of employees. Difference, and sometimes Legally suspicious, Has economic advantages.Employers can save about 25% by converting employees to contract workers, according to Estimates of the Economic Policy Research InstituteThe money saved comes from the employer’s not having to pay for unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and paid vacation.
How do you protect the growing ranks of independent workers?
The absence of protection measures such as unemployment insurance or employer-subsidized healthcare means that incidents such as accidents, newborns or global epidemics may have a greater negative impact on independent workers than traditional workers.
Rafael Espinal, executive director of the Freelancers League, told Recode: “Freelancers don’t have a social safety net they can rely on to help them survive the weeks or months of unemployment.”
The union is one of many advocates and is committed to creating something called portable benefits so that independent workers, regardless of their employment status, can receive benefits such as paid vacation, unemployment insurance, retirement plans, and affordable health care.
So far, fewer than 10 states provide paid employment leave for new parents, including part-time workers.Biden’s proposal American Family Plan A “national comprehensive” paid family leave program will be created, and the Freelancers Alliance hopes that the program will include freelancers. The bill is still being debated in Congress, so even if it passes, what it will eventually contain is still up in the air.Independent workers are Not included in the Family and Medical Leave Act, Which provides work protection for workers during unpaid leave.
Espinal said: “When the budget is passed, we will have to ensure that independent workers are included in the implementation of the plan.” “Given that a few states can successfully implement similar plans, this should not be a difficult task.”
As far as benefits are concerned, paid vacation is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not enough to meet all the needs of the rapidly growing number of freelancers and independent workers, who make up a large portion of the American workforce.
Espinal believes that the responsibility for protecting independent workers lies with the government.
“If it becomes unsustainable, it is because the federal government has not responded,” Espinal said. “I do believe that the silver lining of this pandemic is that it shocked the federal and state governments to the point that they had to react and consider how to build a safety net for the millions of people who traditionally did not have a safety net. “