Lack of a Supportive Ecosystem for Gig Workers

Quantifying the number of gig workers can be difficult, but researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimate they make up around 16% of the U.S. labor force. In 2016, Pew estimated that 24% of Americans earned income through applications like Uber or Lyft. A 2018 Boston Consulting Group study found that 40% of global executives expect gig workers to make up an increased share of their company’s workforce in the next 5 years

Tracking the number and nature of “irregular” work isn’t the only challenge facing the gig economy. These workers also face the prospect of sudden pay cuts engineered by algorithms to balance worker supply with consumer demand. The lack of benefits and certain worker rights are another issue, as evidenced by the recent passage of AB 5 in California.

Overall, what’s lacking is a broader ecosystem to facilitate gig work, ensuring workers receive proper protections and benefits.

@Localizedworld, @paigeboehmcke, would love to get your thoughts on this.

To what extent are governments (state, federal, foreign) and companies already innovating to provide a better ecosystem for gig workers?

Why are those efforts not succeeding? Or are they?

Thanks, Nick. Gig work is not my area of expertise. However, I think health insurance that is not employer-dependent is a critical starting point for gig workers (especially as they age or have dependents). Many countries have universal health insurance so that is a non-issue but in places like the United States, it is a major challenge. Organizations such as the Freelancers Union emerged precisely to try to de-risk the gig economy (, but they are still a drop in the bucket relative to the challenge.

I agree! This also goes to pensions and unemployment insurance.

Health insurance is decoupled from jobs in most (all?) European countries, but pensions are not.

In the Netherlands, we have a two-tier pension system where there is a universal pension for everyone and then a supplemental pension that is jointly administered by trade unions and employers. It excludes freelancers, business owners and gig workers. The governments is working on changing that.

Same for unemployment insurance, but that’s even tougher. There are proposals to make unemployment insurance mandatory, same as health insurance. (The Dutch system is pretty much Obamacare for everyone.) But many self-employers workers are opposed to that, because private unemployment insurance is so expensive.

For all of these benefits – health insurance, pensions, unemployment insurance – I think the challenge is the same: How do you extent that to the self-employed without hurting their bottom line?

@bedomin, @skalloch, @janetsalm, do you have thoughts on this?

@Localizedworld Thank you for sharing this resource! Our team recently spoke with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and we learned about one of their portable benefits platforms: Alia. Its in the beta testing phase now, but sounds like a really promising platform!

@H_Kay_Howard, @alysia_o, what are your thoughts on this discussion? We’re curious to know what, if anything, companies and governments around the world are already doing to provide gig workers with a more supportive ecosystem.

Sorry @NickOttens, I don’t have too much experience with gig work policy making but I have recently heard about Deloitte. partnering with Experfy to develop a “talent cloud” to enable greater access for them of experts
Very different from addressing the needs of gig workers who are hustling for Uber.

Thanks, @alysia_o!

@mhenrynickie, it would be great to read your perspective on this issue as well.