• Wonolo

Recently, two newspaper articles came out that presented the gig economy in diametrically opposed terms. One said it was a “myth”, while the other cited new areas of growth outside of simple temp work. Like all good opposing arguments, the truth as it applies to Wonoloers, can be found somewhere in between the lines.

Since we can very easily debunk the “gig economy is nonexistent” viewpoint, let’s start with the hot take from The Washington Post. Ominously headlined “Is the gig economy a myth?” and written as an opinion piece by author and economics reporter Robert J. Samuelson, the column argues that the gig economy was a bust based on the results of two separate surveys.

The first survey Samuelson cites, by two economists, noted that workers in “alternative work arrangements” had risen by 5 percent to 15.8 percent, of total employment, between 2005 and 2015. From there, Samuelson opines that the gig economy has imploded, or never really existed, based on a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey showing that workers in “alternative employment arrangements” numbered 10.1 percent of total employment in 2017, almost exactly the same as it was in 2005 (10.7%) and 1995 (9.9%).

In other words, Samuelson says the gig economy sky is falling (if it ever existed at all) based on the results of two surveys, using two different terminologies, two sets of parameters which provided two distinctly different results. To simplify that even more, Samuelson compared apples to oranges and came up with a watermelon.

Ultimately, Samuelson undermines his own argument in his opening line, when he writes, “The ‘gig economy,’ RIP. Well, maybe…”. Further, he notes that there’s no clear definition of a “gig” job and compares 2017 employment numbers to those in years when smartphones didn’t exist or were in their infancy (you know, back when the gig economy didn’t actually exist!). And, he even closes with an indictment of his own writing, warning the reader about putting too much faith in the “scribbling and chattering class (of which this reporter is obviously a member)”.

On the brighter side, and in direct contrast to Samuelson’s shaky claim, we have an article from The New York Times which notes that the gig economy is actually growing into other employment areas. Citing changes in lifestyles, school schedules, and workforce dynamics, the Times notes gig economy workers are now filling many jobs that were once considered “summer” or “seasonal” positions. Specifically, the Times noted that employers at summer attractions and destinations say the summer vacation season now runs from May to October and that the American high school and college students are less motivated to fill those summer jobs. Hence, many of what were once students’ seasonal or summer jobs are now being filled by on-demand, gig economy workers.

In the end, who should you believe: the Washington Post or the New York Times? Well, while it’s hard to argue with a noted economics reporter’s claim, the Washington Post actually undermines every point Samuelson made by linking two other articles (here and here) citing the growth of the gig economy and a potential benefit of gig economy side hustles on the same page. On a more local level, more Wonolo Requestors in more cities are discovering the benefits of Wonolo’s flexible, on-demand workforce. And that means a growing gig economy with more Wonolo jobs and more opportunities for Wonoloers to work the jobs they want, when they want, so they can actually live the life they want.

Finally, while the economist points to random survey numbers to claim the gig economy is a myth, the numbers to rebut that claim just keep growing, right along with the gig economy itself. And if you’re ready to go big in the gig economy, whether you’re an employee or employer, Wonolo can help the numbers work for you too!