As a workers author, I cowl tendencies in facet gigs, app-based work and odd jobs, collectively known as “the gig economic system.” These tendencies are unstable throughout a superb yr, and 2020 was something however a superb yr.
Final yr, I wrote a similar article about what to look at within the gig economic system in 2020. And I’ll be the primary to let you know I acquired some stuff laughably fallacious. Nobody might have predicted a pandemic that steamrolled our economic system.
However as issues inch again to some sense of normalcy, there are a couple of tendencies that we are able to moderately anticipate in 2021. Right here’s what I’ll be watching.
1. An Total Increase in Gig Work
The gig economic system ballooned like by no means earlier than in 2020.
In line with an annual survey commissioned by Upwork, the freelance economic system (together with gig work like ridesharing in addition to skilled freelance providers) soared to $1.2 trillion this yr — a 22% improve from 2019.
On its face, that may sound like an incredible factor, nevertheless it’s extra sophisticated. As a substitute of breaking our 9-to-5 chains, gig work has as a substitute change into a significant security internet. Gigs had been there for hundreds of thousands of People when conventional jobs weren’t.
So when the gig economic system sees large beneficial properties prefer it did this yr, that might be an indicator that the standard economic system is tanking and forcing individuals to select up second or third jobs to get by.
These beneficial properties weren’t distributed evenly, both. Just like the standard economic system, occasions and entertainment-related sectors shrunk significantly, whereas supply and e-commerce shined. With a vaccine rolling out and native economies creaking again open, it’s seemingly these discrepancies will begin to even out within the coming yr.
The general job market, nevertheless, will take for much longer to recuperate. Some economists predict issues received’t be enterprise as ordinary till 2024.
In the mean time, gig work will stay a makeshift security internet and proceed rising in 2021 and past.
2. Aspect Gigs — With out the ‘Aspect’ Half
In an ideal economic system, you wouldn’t want a facet gig as a result of your day job can be steady and would pay you effectively sufficient to cowl a snug lifestyle.
In an imperfect however functioning economic system (suppose U.S. circa 2019), you may want a facet gig that can assist you meet a purpose. You might have a strong day job however perhaps you wish to begin Ubering briefly that can assist you repay your scholar loans or bank cards. Higher but, you launch a facet gig to hone new abilities that may translate into a greater job — and even your personal enterprise. (That is actually one of the best side-gig situation. We extremely advocate creating a similar “exit plan” for your side gig earlier than taking over extra work.)
Then there’s the pandemic economic system. Cue the unhappy trombone. It has change into more and more widespread for individuals to cobble collectively their total earnings off a smattering of various gigs. There’s no fundamental gig or job. So none of them are technically “facet” gigs.
In an interview with The Penny Hoarder earlier within the pandemic, Shiftsmart President Patrick Brandt, stated he sees this gig economic system development taking part in out on his app, which offers a free service that pairs customers with native or distant gig work and pays them per shift.
“Individuals who had been simply utilizing us for [side money] at the moment are utilizing us to stack shifts throughout a number of alternatives to satisfy their total earnings,” he stated.
Till the standard job market recovers, extra individuals shall be pressured into the same state of affairs.
3. A Coming Cliff for Some Gig Employees
For the primary time ever in 2020, individuals with out enough work historical past — together with unbiased contractors and gig employees — might qualify for unemployment advantages by means of a brand new program known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
This system was created by means of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act again in March 2020. It has been a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of People who’re out of labor because of the pandemic however don’t meet the necessities for normal unemployment insurance coverage. The December stimulus bundle prolonged PUA into March 2021. Plus, it rebooted the improved weekly cost program generally known as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) — although this time as a $300 weekly enhance as a substitute of the unique $600.
Learn extra on the extended unemployment benefits included in the second stimulus package.
All excellent news to date. However the December stimulus bundle additionally included some stipulations that may have an effect on your advantages in case you’re a gig employee.
By the top of March 2021, PUA recipients should submit paperwork (earnings statements, ledgers, 1099s and extra) to show their eligibility for this system. Offering such documentation could show tough for even essentially the most earnest bookkeeping gig employees, as a complete report of 1099 earnings is notoriously powerful to keep up.
Fail to provide the right info, and PUA recipients could also be requested to pay again the unemployment cash.
Beforehand, PUA recipients might self-certify that they had been out of labor as a consequence of coronavirus-related causes — basically pinky-promising below penalty of perjury.
Moreover, the December stimulus bundle was a lot smaller in scope than the CARES Act. It offers solely 11 extra weeks of unemployment advantages. The financial state of affairs is unlikely to resolve itself inside that time-frame, so jobless people could as soon as once more face their advantages being minimize off in March 2021 until there’s a third stimulus bundle.
4. Ripple Results of a New Gig Economic system Rule in California
One thing occurred this yr that has the potential to alter the character of the gig economic system. I’m not speaking concerning the pandemic.
After a protracted and costly marketing campaign that pitted some gig employees, unions and worker-rights advocates towards Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and different main gig corporations, a poll measure known as Proposition 22 handed on Election Day in California. Gig corporations spent a collective $200 million in help of this new rule that impacts their gig employees and unbiased contractors.
Why would they spend a lot cash lobbying in help of this rule? Effectively, if Prop 22 hadn’t handed, Uber, Lyft and different corporations that depend on unbiased contractors would have needed to reclassify their employees as workers. Amongst many modifications, they might’ve been pressured to stick to minimal wage legal guidelines, grant advantages like medical health insurance, pay payroll taxes and supply employees compensation.
Prop 22 is actually a compromise. It doesn’t provide gig employees with the complete advantages of W-2 employment, nevertheless it offers greater than they’d beforehand. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi refers to it as a “third means.” It doesn’t grant a minimal wage, nevertheless it does give gig employees an “earnings assure” and subsidizes medical health insurance prices in the event that they commonly work a sure variety of hours.
Why this issues is as a result of the gig employee classification subject isn’t contained to California. It’s sprouted up in Illinois and New York already. And Khosrowshahi has overtly said that he sees this “third means” as a nationwide resolution to the controversy, which is certain to engulf much more states within the yr to come back.
Adam Hardy is a workers author at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economic system, distant work and different distinctive methods to make cash. Learn his latest articles here, or say hello on Twitter @hardyjournalism.