When we think “gig economy,” we tend to picture an Uber driver or a TaskRabbit tasker rather than a lawyer or a doctor, but in reality, this scrappy economic model — grubbing around for work, all big dreams and bad health insurance — will soon catch up with the bulk of America’s middle class.
Major companies now outsource many of even their most skilled jobs, ditching their in-house lawyers and I.T. support teams in favor of on-demand contractors, paid by the hour. More than 18 million Americans are now involved in some kind of direct sales or multilevel marketing scheme, shelling out hundreds of dollars on vitamins or juicers or leggings, then frantically attempting to recoup the money by flogging them to friends and neighbors. Economists predict that by 2027, gig workers of varying descriptions will make up more than half of the work force. An estimated 47 percent of millennials already work in this way.
It certainly feels familiar. Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.
This is the future that big employers want—no benefits to pay, no commitments or obligations to the people that do the work, and a “market” in which workers are forced to constantly compete against one another.