Friday, September 18, 2015

Millennials and the "Gig Economy"

The online publication Working Capital Review has a new article out on Millennials and the "gig" or freelancing economy, along with an associated report. Rather than work at a traditional 9:00-to-5:00 job, in other words, one can work as an independent contractor, for however many hours a week one wants to work, provided one can find customers for the particular service provided. The WCR article provides some basic background information:

According to the study, the explosion in the number of American freelancers is due to the expansion of the internet and social networking in connecting people with projects. Not surprisingly, the area of greatest growth amongst freelancers lies with Millennials. Many of these people have spent their entire working lives as freelancers. Thirty-eight percent of Millennials are freelancing compared with 32 percent of workers older than 35. What’s more, the Great Recession wiped out the notion that a traditional job was secure, the study says. “This growth demand and wage potential – not to mention the freedom that comes with freelancing – has many more Americans thinking about making the jump.” 

In my view, the features young people say they want in a job (e.g., flexible hours and working conditions; ability to express one's personal identity), combined with their technological savvy, make these findings totally unsurprising. The article sounds a note of caution for Millennials, however, namely that freelancing doesn't provide benefits (e.g., health, retirement) that frequently are part of traditional jobs. Freelancers would thus have to set some of their earnings aside to acquire these benefits.

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