Perspectives on the "Sharing/Gig Economy"

The Economic Policy Institute and The New America Foundation
Thursday, October 29, 2015
9:30 AM to 11:00 AM (EDT)

According to Steven Hill’s Raw Deal: How the "Uber Economy" and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers (St. Martin’s Press), the US workforce is undergoing an alarming transformation. Increasing numbers of workers are being turned into contractors, freelancers, temps and “just-in-time” part-timers. Add to that the steamroller of automation and robots obsolescing millions of jobs, and the jobs picture starts looking grim. Now an insidious mash-up of Silicon Valley technology and Wall Street greed has produced the latest economic fraud: the so-called "sharing economy," with companies like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit providing ever-smaller jobs (“micro-gigs”) and wages, while the companies profit handsomely in the “share the crumbs” economy.

Steven Hill challenges the hype celebrating this new economy. Hill proposes pragmatic policy solutions to transform the US economy and its safety net, launching a new kind of deal to restore power to US workers.

Lawrence Mishel, EPI President, will discuss this research, showing that neither automation nor the gig economy are the main threats to good quality jobs and robust wage growth. The hype about automation and gig work is not just their impact but how extensive they really are. These are trends to be monitored, says Mishel, but the main challenges are the ones that have emerged over the last three decades to suppress wage growth: weak labor standards, excessive unemployment, globalization and weakened collective bargaining.

Coffee and refreshments will be provided.