The Gig Economy: Is it the New Normal?

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Twenty, thirty years ago, the everyday American could do more than get by on their 9-to-5 job alone. More than likely they were seeing consistent raises and bonuses, and they earned enough capital on which to survive. Life was good working only 40 hours a week, and rarely, if at all, more.

But, nowadays a person – especially a young person, an American Millennial – works several jobs doing several different things. These are known as gigs, a series of part-time jobs they perform on a weekly, even daily, basis. They need it to survive in this expensive society we call America.

This person may work several jobs. The average Millennial – those Americans born between 1980 and 2000 – may work at a coffee shop in the morning, drive an Uber cab in the evenings, and in the day they may have a normal desk job. This is not atypical. Many young Americans faced with thousands of dollars in student loans are forced to work several jobs even just to survive, to pay the bills and have enough of a disposable income to enjoy their lives – such as traveling, even seldom going out to dinner and drinks, etc.

This notion of a “Gig Economy” may have emerged around the year 2007 when American society started changing a great deal – when the economy took a turn for the worst. It was the start of reduced economic activity, and it took a toll on the wallets of all Americans – if not people all over the world.

Mid-2009 saw the economy improving, but not without the establishment of new approaches to earn a living. Nonetheless, this trend of having numerous jobs to survive seemed to move forth, becoming a staple in society regardless of the age factor.

In his recent Washington Post column “Asking Tough Questions About the Gig Economy,” Mark R. Warner, a Democratic Senator from Virginia, says, “the U.S. workforce is increasingly composed of freelancers, independent contractors and the otherwise self-employed.”

Is this a bad or good thing? It’s hard to say, but whenever a society as a whole is forced to work just to make ends meet, one can count on a decreased quality of life; also, this is bad for the economy, as people work more and end up spending less.

The column is making the point that Washington is ignoring this new trend in the American workplace, and therefore acting with negligence, Warner goes on to say that whether by economic necessity or by one’s own choice, about one-third of American workers depend on two, three or even more jobs to make an adequate living. For example, in order to get balance between work & studies, Americans can outsource their assignments to essay writing companies like Privatewriting.com or other similar services.

This situation is highly common to a group that includes several different generations of workers, from the Millennials who began entering the workplace around the year 2000, to the middle-age baby boomers who found themselves downsized or without a career as their retirement loomed just ahead of them. Also, this group of people naturally includes people who have always supplemented their income with multiple jobs. It’s how they have survived through their life, probably because their primary job – if they had one – could not provide for them entirely.

People who are part of this “Gig Economy” are essentially contract workers – and they’re highly sought after, mostly because the company that employs them for their work does not have to provide them health insurance or retirement benefits. These companies also are not required, usually, to pay a share of unemployment or workers’ compensation packages, the column also adds.

Corporations who pay large sums of money each year to insure their employees are likely attracted to this idea of hiring consultants, freelancers and part-time contract workers. Doing so saves them money.

It is too early to tell whether this notion of a “Gig Economy” is the new norm. But one thing is sure: it certainly makes a point for increasing the minimum age, as well as for Universal healthcare.

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