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Businesses The Almighty Buck United States

The Gig Economy is Actually Smaller Than It Used To Be, Labor Department Says (marketwatch.com) 64

The so-called gig economy is actually slightly smaller than it used to be, according to a new Labor Department report released Thursday that chronicles the jobs market in the age of Uber. From a report: In May 2017, the Labor Department counted 5.9 million people, or 3.8% of workers, in what it calls contingent jobs, which are those that the workers don't expect to last or that workers call temporary. In 2005, the last time the government looked into the issue, there were 4.1% of workers who classified themselves this way. "Taken at face value, the results indicate that the role of non-traditional work arrangements in the U.S. economy has remained largely unchanged during the past 20 years, even as excitement and media coverage of the growth of the 'gig economy' has increased," said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist for The Conference Board.

The Gig Economy is Actually Smaller Than It Used To Be, Labor Department Says

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  • Oh crap, this fact doesn't fit the narrative I heard on TV from my favorite comedian. It must be false.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      It could also mean that people are looking at "sharing" jobs as permanent.

      • It could also mean that people are looking at "sharing" jobs as permanent.

        It could also mean this research was sponsored by Uber.

  • which are those that the workers don't expect to last or that workers call temporary.

    Isn't that all jobs these days . . . ?

    I've been with the same employer for more than 30 years, but change jobs every few years.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      Isn't that all jobs these days . . . ?

      Average job tenure is higher today than it was 30 years ago.

      The "Golden Age" of lifetime employment is a myth. It never happened for most people, especially if they were not both white and male.

  • by CaptnCrud ( 938493 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @05:55PM (#56745754)

    3-5 years tops in the tech industry. Unless you do gov work your not getting a pension or even thinking of lasting there till retirement. They wouldn't keep you, but odds are good they wouldn't exist anyway...

    • 3-5 years tops in the tech industry. Unless you do gov work your not getting a pension or even thinking of lasting there till retirement. They wouldn't keep you, but odds are good they wouldn't exist anyway...

      There is a certain amount of truth to this because the moment the economy takes even a slight dip or the company might be slightly less profitable, your job may well vanish. For the most part employment is contingent upon profitability.

    • The "Tech industry" is wide and wonderful [stackoverflow.com]. What shitty corner are you working in? Because embedded development has worked out pretty well for me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..and everything that implies (i.e. you work for them, you're a whore -- and are treated like one). Prove me wrong.
    Opaque 'company policies', intended to create a gulf between you and the people you're pimped out to.
    Work for years, never get more money, living paycheck-to-paycheck? Tough shit, the 'customer' and the 'pimps' all point fingers at each other, claiming it's 'out of their hands', they can't pay you more.
    Treated like a second-class (or third, or fourth..) citizen -- because you're a whore.

    T
  • My 0.02 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @06:00PM (#56745780)
    The gig economy is ultimately not sustainable. For one thing, the gig economy cheapens real world skills. For example, the recent law school graduate that might be in an area saturated with lawyers might advertise basic services for dirt cheap just to get money coming in the door. But this amount of money comes nowhere near to both providing food and shelter and paying off the enormous student debt. For another, the worker participating in the gig economy must continue to chase micro jobs that pay peanuts in the hope of getting enough volume to make it remotely worthwhile. And, there are more service providers than there are people to consume them virtually ensuring that gig economy participants are competing for scraps. I kind of liken it to being the low ranking wolf in a pack - it's competition for scraps that still won't fill the belly.
    • The gig economy is ultimately not sustainable.

      Lawyers have been hanging a shingle and doing "gigs" for centuries. So have plumbers, carpenters, etc.

      the recent law school graduate that might be in an area saturated with lawyers might advertise basic services for dirt cheap just to get money

      Or he could move to where pay is higher. The principles of supply and demand predate "gigs".

      • Re:My 0.02 (Score:5, Informative)

        by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @06:42PM (#56746056) Journal
        What is relatively new though, at least as far as I can see around me in Europe, is that an increasing number of formerly semi-permanent jobs are being turned into gigs. Employers are basically saying: "We need you to quit and come back as a freelancer." Not that long ago this often was a pretty sweet deal especially for white collar workers, but what they are really saying these days is: "We want you to become a freelancer, working at shit rates which will leave you with as much cash in your pocket as you used to get from us, but without us having to pay for a pension, insurance, training or an income between assignments." An especially attractive proposition for employers in countries like mine, where employers' dues (national insurances and pension) are around 30% on top of gross wages.
        • What is relatively new though, at least as far as I can see around me in Europe, is that an increasing number of formerly semi-permanent jobs are being turned into gigs.

          Perhaps, like in America, this is something everyone "knows" is true, but actually isn't.

          Can you cite any evidence that "gigs" are more common in Europe?

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      And being a large team of software developers is exactly the same problem. Everyone is fighting for the interesting tasks and trying to avoid being pushed away from software development. Sometimes these are the large tasks that take more time. Maybe it's the tasks that involve signal processing, DSP's, parallel processing, mathematics or those that involve writing new code. Then it becomes like a medieval banquet. Those closet to the king get the juicy chunks of meat. The serfs at the bottom get the throw-a

  • and for the first time in our history we have more job openings than job seekers. Just sucks for those of us that oppose him that he is keeping campaign promises.

  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @06:06PM (#56745816)

    That makes sense. People take "gigs" to tide them over until they can get a real job. But real jobs are more available now.

    There was a bunch of people out of work a decade ago when rising gas prices made the housing bubble burst leading to the Econopocalypse that everyone likes to references with "These hard economic times". But those times are over. We've had steady (if slow) employment growth and now unemployment is creeping below 4%. Down into rates we haven't seen since the 1960's.

    Anyone in the gig economy is underemployed (or has REALLY shitty job prospects). As times get better, fewer people need to do shitty gigs to make ends meet.

    (And it's less... new. For a while, all those people were being paid with venture capitalist money)

  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @06:08PM (#56745828)

    to Meg economy?

  • ... the tipping point.

    Unemployment is at an all-time low.

    That means lots of room for entry-level jobs.

    Those jobs pay even if you're taking a smoke, shit, or a coffee break.

    When jobs become scarce, the gif economy will expand again.

    --

    Even so, that number hasn't changed much in 20 years and is so low that it represents "noise."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Few of the "gig" workers I know would show up on a survey like this. I am a gig tech worker. I don't have an LLC and am paid for tasks or work performed or for an end product via cash or check. From their point of view, I'm essentially unemployed though I make a living.

    In the non-tech arena, I know many people in a more rural area who lost traditional jobs in the 2009-2012 period who never returned. They now cut down trees, perform handyman jobs, do construction under-the-table, etc. Their work is steadier

  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @06:27PM (#56745958)

    Alternatively people aren't saying Lyft/Uber/etc are short term gigs, but instead viewed like a job. Since it's self-reported whether it's short term or not./p.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Alternatively people aren't saying Lyft/Uber/etc are short term gigs, but instead viewed like a job. Since it's self-reported whether it's short term or not./p.

      Uber are fast running out of suckers to drive for them as people are realising that you wont earn enough from Uber to cover the costs of running a Citroen C1, let alone a Focus sized car. Without a steady supply of new suckers to replace the old ones who've figured this out, customers are also leaving Uber. This is the same for most "gig" economies. Very few places can support them, something like Deliveroo might work in large cities like London where population density makes it workable or university town

  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @06:31PM (#56745984)
    8 of 10 small businesses don't make it 18 months. A person deciding to try gig work is in essence a one person small business. As an individual who has been a self employed contract programmer for 30+ years. Getting over the hump is tough. Especially, sense most everything you think, turns out to be wrong or at the least needs a lot of adjustments ;) Also, it means long hours and requires one to be very versatile. And in addition the market and economic reality is always changing. Which requires one to always be asking what is next and re educating ones self for what will come in 6 months.

    Just my 2 cents ;)
  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @07:48PM (#56746412) Homepage Journal

    Gig Economy jobs suck - they're horrible jobs with low pay and high misery components - why shouldn't the Gig economy workforce be shrinking?

    Perhaps - just perhaps, with more open jobs than workers looking for jobs, potential "Gig'ers" have better options than leasing a car from Uber, buying Uber's insurance, driving strangers all over town, and hoping to earn more than gas money for the privilege?

  • ... other than maybe folks are realizing that they really do NOT like be day labor, the way their grandparents and great-grandparents were, before unions came in in force.

    But we don't need unions. We're happy to be fired at will, told to work "whatever it takes", even if that's 60, 70 or more hours a week, we don't need a life....

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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