For the better part of a century, Americans made a living working nine to five for a single employer. These days, much has changed, with millions of people assembling various streams of income by working independently.
Dubbed the "gig economy" this rising employment trend has captured an impressive share of labor-market activity. But, what does this mean for traditional payroll employment, and what is the growth potential for the so-called "rides and rooms" industry?
A Growing Impact
In essence, the gig economy refers to a modern labor market characterized by freelance work and short-term contracts as opposed to permanent jobs. For decades, the average working American acquired the entirety of his or her income by working a full-time job under a single employer. These days, such traditional arrangements fail to capture how a growing share of the workforce makes a living.
While independent work is nothing new, its role in the U.S. economy has become more important. In fact, according to study by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, the gig economy is actually growing faster than traditional payroll employment.
Other research supports this assessment. According to research from McKinsey Global Institute, 68 million Americans, or 27 percent of the working-age population, are involved in some form of alternative work arrangement. What's more, between 76 and 129 million express their desire to eventually engage in some type of independent work. These data point toward an apparent shift in the way Americans work. At the same time, the growing gig economy is reflecting a change in the way many companies do business.
After mining Census Bureau data on non-employer firms, the Brookings Institution