Is the Sharing Economy Creating Quality Jobs?
With the rise of income marketplaces like Uber and Airbnb, people are trying to define what this part-time employment phenomenon should actually be called. Some are calling it the “sharing economy” or the “on-demand economy,” all in an attempt to describe this seismic shift in employment.
But thanks to the millennial generation, this change in employment status has become hip and cool. Hipsters from the latest generation have also coined it as the “gig economy” and are embracing the part-time status, rather than actively fighting it.
Back in 2008, when the market crashed and full-time jobs evaporated, millennials graduating from college were left with few secure employment opportunities. This particular group had very little choice but to move into their parents’ basement and work entry-level jobs that did not match their degrees or interests.
Seven years later, instead of complaining about it, millennials have embraced the shift and turned employment on its head.
Technology—especially mobile technology—is now being used every day by millennials to unlock and uncover job opportunities. The savviest from this mobile-first generation are stringing together a series of jobs and pursuing careers they actually care about.
Uber’s success has launched a litany of gig economy players all emulating the curated services model in an attempt to satisfy the insatiable thirst for the millennials to work. But the challenge for many of these 1.0 gig economy players is that they can’t scale beyond a few cities and provide their work force with enough quality jobs to make a living.
Part of this challenge is rooted in the fact that these venture-backed companies do not have enough capital to drive demand. Uber and Airbnb can do it because they have billions of dollars to create demand. Other smaller players cannot do it at scale, eventually run out of cash, and are relegated to focus on small geographic pockets for success. This leaves consumers who want to participate on the hiring side out in the cold.
By Jeff Tennery
Op-Ed for PSFK on July 8, 2015