What is a 'Gig Economy'

In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who rarely change positions and instead focus on a lifetime career.

BREAKING DOWN 'Gig Economy'

Due to the large numbers of people willing to work part-time or temporary positions, the result of a gig economy is cheaper, more efficient services (such as Uber or Airbnb) for those willing to use them. Those who don't engage in using technological services such as the Internet tend to be left behind by the benefits of the gig economy. Cities tend to have the most highly developed services and are the most entrenched in the gig economy. While not all employers tend toward hiring contracted employees, the gig economy trend often makes it harder for full-time employees to fully develop in their careers, since temporary employees are often cheaper to hire and more flexible in their availability.

There is a wide range of positions that fall into the category of a "gig." For example, adjunct and part-time professors are considered to be contracted employees, as opposed to tenured or tenure-track professors. Colleges and universities are able to cut costs and match professors to their academic needs by hiring more adjunct and part-time professors.

What Factors Contribute to a Gig Economy?

America is well on its way to establishing a gig economy, and it is estimated that as much as a third of the working population is already working in some sort of gig capacity. This number is only expected to rise. In the modern digital world, it's becoming increasingly common for people to work remotely or from home. This facilitates independent contracting work, as many of those jobs don't require the freelancer to come in to the office to work. Employers also have a wider range of applicants to choose from, as they don't necessarily have to choose to hire someone based on their proximity. Additionally, computers have developed to the point that they can take the place of the jobs people previously held.

Economic reasons also factor in to the development of a gig economy. In many cases, employers cannot afford to hire full-time employees to do all the work they need done, so they hire part-time or temporary employees to take care of busier times or specific projects. On the side of the employee, people often find that they need to move around or take more than one position in order to afford the lifestyle they want. People also tend to change careers many times throughout their lives, so the gig economy is the reflection of this occurring on a large scale.

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