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The ‘Gig’ Economy Isn’t As Big As You May Think

Photo Credit: Getty / Witthaya Prasongsin
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By AFSCME Staff Explore the Issues Workers' Rights

Don’t believe the hype. The traditional workplace is far from dead.

Despite conventional wisdom that we’re seeing a rise of “gig” workers and independent contractors – such as Uber and Lyft drivers – a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that the trend is more hype than real.

“Perhaps surprisingly, workers were slightly more apt to have standard work arrangements in 2017 than in 2005,” write the authors of the report. “In 2017, the total share of the labor force working in nonstandard arrangements was 10.1 percent, down from 10.9 percent in 2005.”

The report is based in part on a survey of “contingent workers” conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and released in May 2017.

The EPI/CEPR report focuses special attention on older workers, ages 55 to 65 and 65 and older. Major findings, which cover the 12-year period between 2005 and 2017, include:

Read the full report here.

So, no, workers aren’t quitting to become Uber drivers. Most people still report to traditional offices. And most people still seek fair pay, good benefits and respect and dignity at work – things that workers join together in unions to demand.

As the New York Times put in a 2018 article, maybe the gig economy isn’t reshaping work.