Another Look at the Gig Economy

A few days ago I took a look at whether the gig economy was really “exploding,” as an LA Times columnist had suggested. Neither the BLS nor anyone else directly tracks this, so I took a look at the number of part-time workers as a rough proxy and concluded that nothing much was going on. But I promised to report back if I got more information.

Today, another LA Times article mentions a Katz and Krueger paper in 2015 about “alternative work arrangements.” The category that’s closest to gig work is “on-call worker,” and here’s their chart:

The slope of the lines doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the 2015 line is higher than either the 1995 or 2005 lines. Gig workers are mostly in the bottom half of the income spectrum, and in quintiles 1 and 2 the share of on-call workers has gone up from about 2 percent to 3 percent of the labor force.

How big an increase is that? By one measure, it’s one percentage point. By another, it’s an increase of 50 percent. Basically, growth in the gig economy has been fairly robust, but it’s starting from a pretty low base. It’s still not a very big factor in the overall economy.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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