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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

The Gig Economy: Still Learning What a Gig Really Is

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

Employment status, contractor title, legislation, and more terms need to be (re)learned in order to understand the gig economy. Previously, the worker was free to define a gig as anything other than a 9-to-5, regular 40 hour work week, with single employer. On demand services increased the need for gig workers, as consumers enjoyed convenience and unique delivery methods. Independent contractors may be the winners as regulations increase costs to employers, including wage hikes and employment benefits. More important, do those in the field of career services know how to support gig workers?

~ Melanie Reinersman, M.A.,

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

FOCUS ON: On-Demand Independent Work

Employee or contractor – that is the question facing state regulators in New York and California. Labor protection definitions and debates are surrounding delivery services such as Uber, Lyft, and Door Dash. As costs go up for these companies (while profitability decreases), will employment opportunities go down? Keep up with the legislation and the discussions by reading more in the Wall Street Journal.


Occasional workers are defined by the call for flexibility. Demographically, the gig worker does not look that much different than the rest of the U.S. workforce, in terms of gender, location, education, income and age. The prevalence and types of gig jobs has changed, specifically the growth in white-collar, tech jobs. While the need for income (particularly for support or as a supplement) is a big motivator, there are drawbacks. Read more from the Society for Human Resource Management.

YOUR LIBRARY: The Importance of Work in Age of Uncertainty

The rise of the gig economy is not the only reason Americans are suffering despite low unemployment. David L. Blustein, Ph.D., says it is the “growing impermanence of the U.S. Economy.” His newest book emphasizes the effect of precarious work (i.e., “short-term or contract jobs with minimal protections”) when describing the complex reality of the American labor market. Read more from Dr. Blustein.

TOP TEN: Years in a Gig Economy

Benefits of this work include more flexibility and lower costs to the company. This is offset by a potential downside: compromised security. Finding gig workers require employers to first define specific talent needs. What else has been learned in the last ten years? Read more from Grow Wire.


“To people I know in the bottom income brackets, living paycheck to paycheck, the Gig Economy has been old news for years. What’s new is the way it’s hit the demographic that used to assume that a college degree from an elite school was the passport to job security.” ~ Tina Brown
“Trends such as skills imbalances, the gig economy, and digitization are transforming work so quickly that policy creation is lagging behind.” ~ Alain Dehaze


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