There were some headlines recently along the lines of “Economists who predicted the gig economy say it never happened’. Timothy Taylor has a succinct summary of the work that prompted that on his blog, along with some other research from the Boston Fed. He concludes:
It seems clear that more people are receiving income and tax from activities that are outside traditional jobs. But other than ride-sharing jobs, just how to characterize these jobs remains murky, and the question of what rules and regulations might apply to such income-earning activities remains murky, too. It feels to me as if a shift is happening in US labor markets, in which the expectation of a long-term bond between employers and employees has declined on both sides. But I don’t yet feel that I understand the details of this shift.
The gig work apps have clearly grown, but as the economy recovered there has been a recovery in traditional employment options as well. The big question at the heart of this stuff is when are people taking on app-based worked in a way which is positive, versus negative. For example, for someone who in reasonable employment and who is looking to add some extra earnings, the app-based option is likely positive; if they’re driving due to a dearth of employment opportunities it is likely less so.