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Economists have no idea how many people work freelance – they can’t even agree on a definition.
Freelance workers are seemingly invisible to government data.
Gig workers. Talent. Temp. Flex talent. Flex worker. Freelancer. Hustler. Side-hustler. Self-employed. Creator. Contributor. Contingent worker. Contractor. Contract Killer. Contract Man. Girl Friday. Casual. Servicer. Provider of services. On-demand. Fissured worker. Decentralized Worker. Supplier. Sole Proprietor. Nano job. Small Enterprise. Micro Enterprise. Micro Business. Small Business. Mom-and-Pop. Guru. Hotshot. Partaker. Practitioner. Purveyor. Provider. Producer. Independent. Outworker. Go-getter. Grubstaker.
If you think it’s hard coming up with a name for these workers, imagine counting them? Economists can’t. And don’t.
So is it any wonder the CARES Act and subsequent Covid-19 bailout packages can’t seem to figure out how to get relief checks to gig-less gig workers.
The decentralization of work — whether it’s Taskrabbit taskers assembling Ikea furniture or machine learning programmers building apps on Braintrust* — is largely unmeasured by traditional economic surveys.
Gig apps accelerated the move freelance work with the launch of TaskRabbit in 2008, Uber
in 2009, Postmates in 2011 and Lyft 2012. So in 2018, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new data on “contingent workers” — the first survey …
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