Silicon Valley: It’s where nerds in garages make things that dominate our lives, like the iPhone and Facebook. But the hottest trend in the valley doesn’t have to do with gadgets, it has to do with work. Specifically, how labor is going to operate in the near future.
They call it “the gig economy.”
What’s the gig economy? It’s Uber; it’s Postmates; it’s TaskRabbit. It’s these apps that allow people to work basically on-demand, doing little chores here and there. Essentially, they’re platforms that connect people who need work with someone who needs something done. And the platform creators take a cut.
It’s hard to deny that these things have made our lives easier. How many times has Uber gotten you home while you’re drunk as hell at three in the morning? Postmates allows you to order food from basically any restaurant, and Airbnb has made vacationing more affordable for millions of people.
So it’s all gravy, right? Well, it turns out the gig economy has a dark side, and it has to do with how our country sees employment. Apps like Uber and Postmates represent a new trend away from secure jobs with benefits like health care or pensions. Instead, we have a glut of temporary, freelance jobs with no benefits and no job security.
The numbers are unbelievable. 6 million Americans work part-time but want full-time jobs, a 30-year high. There are essentially no new full-time jobs coming any time soon. So we have to change the rules of our society. Because before this new reality, we used to rely on our employer for stability and health care. That’s just no longer the case.
So let’s go try out some of these gigs.