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gig economy

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

The trend toward a gig economy has begun. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors. There are a number of forces behind the rise in short-term jobs. For one thing, in this digital age, the workforce is increasingly mobile and work can increasingly be done from anywhere, so that job and location are decoupled. That means that freelancers can select among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool than that available in any given area.

Digitization has also contributed directly to a decrease in jobs as software replaces some types of work and means that others take much less time. Other influences include financial pressures on businesses leading to further staff reductions and the entrance of the Milennial generation into the workforce. The current reality is that people tend to change jobs several times throughout their working lives; the gig economy can be seen as an evolution of that trend.

In a gig economy, businesses save resources in terms of benefits, office space and training. They also have the ability to contract with experts for specific projects who might be too high-priced to maintain on staff. From the perspective of the freelancer, a gig economy can improve work-life balance over what is possible in most jobs. Ideally, the model is powered by independent workers selecting jobs that they're interested in, rather than one in which people are forced into a position where, unable to attain employment, they pick up whatever temporary gigs they can land.

The gig economy is part of a shifting cultural and business environment that also includes the sharing economy, the gift economy and the barter economy.

The American Law Journal examines some of the legal implications of a gig economy.

This was last updated in May 2016

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Poor definition. Fails to tell where "gig" came from or what it means.
The word gig was a slang word used by people referring to finding a job. "I have a gig with Count Basie. I have a gig working at the docks. etc.
GIG means job.
I was on a popular international site, where freelancers from around the world compete for projects or "jobs". Many people in countries with a much lower cost of living were getting the work, because they were much cheaper and non-competitive. Also, because of the time differences, they were able to learn about and complete the jobs much faster.


I am a physician and I wonder if I can work through gig economy. Is there any ideas in this?

By belief is that you are in control on who you hire. You will find a way to work through any problem. We all had to work through what ever economy that we lived in. You are stronger than you think.
Hello Margaret,
Great information. I agree with you. I also think that Online Service Marketplaces trends are growing now days and these are the platforms where you can find professional. GIG economy is growing economy and every one wanted to do freelance work. Yes, culture is shifting.
From my personal experience, this translates as more employers cutting costs by using skilled workers as a disposable part of their business model. This extends the trend downward for the average middle class worker getting used and hosed over, again. It's one notch above exploiting child labor.
avejoe: My experience is just the opposite. I don't know an employer who wouldn't love to have long term dedicated employees, including myself. Unfortunately, and that's putting it lightly, they no longer exist. I know many small and medium business owners who are being forced to deal with the constant turn-over of staff and an inability to find talent that wants to work. Outsourcing on a project basis is always more costly than performing "in house" with a quality team. 
I am a physical laborer Gigster and see this as a means to the future which provides help to the small businesses. I suplement my gigs with Handyman work for home owners. In the past year I have built and refaced kitchen and bathroom cabinets, I have worked to hang cabinets and doors on large projects, I ran electrical wire for an electrician, assembled speaker cabinets, unloaded trucks and help set up for large promotions. The problem is finding jobs in this catagory especially in small communities but I see it as the future especially when so many people do not show up for jobs they were hired for and the high turn over companies and businesses are experiencing. this is not a downward trend but an upward trend to a different way to live. And yes this conversation can go on and on.

Funny , I heard "Automation"  ( nee Technology) was taking away jobs..... in the 1960s.... haha    before I actually had a job for myself yet due to my age...

   Good Luck YOU will need it...

PS: save your $$$   Colleges are opening everywhere , cos ITS a no brainer business...hire workers & rake in the Cash... You only get a paper chase, worthless unless YOU pick the wrong Job that requires one!!

Another machiavellic attempt to maximize corporate profits at employees’ detriment. Still alive and well is the colonialist modus operandi of squeezing and expending! The serfs not only till the soil. They now must perform a...gig. Any deliverer to chart a new Magna Carta?


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