January 18, 2020

Is This the End of the Gig Economy?

“Not too long ago, the “gig economy” looked as if it just might be the future of work in America.

The rapid rise of digital platforms that let people earn money by driving passengers, delivering groceries, walking dogs or running errands for strangers raised the prospect that one day many of us might turn to our mobile phones to find our next paycheck. “Freelance workers available at a moment’s notice will reshape the nature of companies and the structure of careers,” said a 2015 subheading in The Economist.

But California’s new measure requiring the state’s gig work force to be treated as conventional employees is only the latest sign of the limits of this approach. The gig economy is looking less like the future of the labor market, and more like a niche arrangement, applicable in a handful of industries and used primarily as a side hustle for people whose main household earnings come from a more stable type of job.

On the workers’ side, an improving economy has made more traditional jobs more plentiful, and so those who prefer to have work with benefits and predictable pay can more easily find it.”

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