Power of Story Send a Tweet        
OpEdNews Op Eds

The Upsurge in Uncertain Work

By       Message Robert B. Reich       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags  Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Author 47089
Become a Fan
  (123 fans)
- Advertisement -

Reprinted from Robert Reich Blog

From youtube.com/watch?v=6r-gjtlzNmE: Jobs crisis?
Jobs crisis?
(Image by YouTube)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

As Labor Day looms, more Americans than ever don't know how much they'll be earning next week or even tomorrow.

- Advertisement -

This varied group includes independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes.

On demand and on call -- in the "share" economy, the "gig" economy, or, more prosaically, the "irregular" economy -- the result is the same: no predictable earnings or hours.

It's the biggest change in the American workforce in over a century, and it's happening at lightening speed. It's estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

- Advertisement -

Increasingly, businesses need only a relatively small pool of "talent" anchored in the enterprise -- innovators and strategists responsible for the firm's unique competitive strength.

Everyone else is becoming fungible, sought only for their reliability and low cost.

Complex algorithms can now determine who's needed to do what and when, and then measure the quality of what's produced. Reliability can be measured in experience ratings. Software can seamlessly handle all transactions -- contracts, billing, payments, taxes.

All this allows businesses to be highly nimble -- immediately responsive to changes in consumer preferences, overall demand, and technologies.

While shifting all the risks of such changes to workers.

Whether we're software programmers, journalists, Uber drivers, stenographers, child care workers, TaskRabbits, beauticians, plumbers, Airbnb'rs, adjunct professors, or contract nurses -- increasingly, we're on our own.

- Advertisement -

And what we're paid, here and now, depends on what we're worth here and now -- in a spot-auction market that's rapidly substituting for the old labor market where people held jobs that paid regular salaries and wages.

Even giant corporations are devolving into spot-auction networks. Amazon's algorithms evaluate and pay workers for exactly what they contribute.

Apple directly employs fewer than 10 percent of the 1 million workers who design, make and sell iMacs and iPhones.

This giant risk-shift doesn't necessarily mean lower pay. Contract workers typically make around $18 an hour, comparable to what they earned as "employees."

Uber and other ride-share drivers earn around $25 per hour, more than double what the typical taxi driver takes home.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

What to Do About Disloyal Corporations

The Gas Wars

The Minimum Wage, Guns, Healthcare, and the Meaning of a Decent Society