Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gigganomitry (The Gig Economy)


So apparently there has been empirical, economic and journalistic analysis of my lifetyle in our hearty economy!  Apparently I've been part of the "gig economy" and I didn't even know about it! What a trendy title as well; a "gig", why I sound like a young rock start  fighting his way into the limelight!

Alright, so basically this gig economy is the idea of individuals holding multiple jobs or engaging in various types of contract work rather than working for one company full-time. Freelancers, part-timers, or temps are other terms for these individuals but the main idea is that these people do lots of different stuff at more than one place for money. 


Now the gig economy has always been around, but apparently now it's gotten more prevalent to the point where 1/3rd of the workforce is in some way involved in the gig economy. How great! So now it's sort of a big deal due to our economic downturn as this has become fairly economical for a lot  of types of business who can get people to work and not provide any of the benefits (health, dental, vision, retirement). 

Now I don't like to reveal too much about myself in my writings as one should be embarrassed to admit to associate themselves with this blog. But basically I have four different jobs (five if you counted being a blogger but that would just be disgraceful to say these writing are in anyway "professional" or "economic") that I juggle to make ends meet. I educate real good in all of them, but all these jobs are different and varying slightly in nature, but a lot of them are  dependent on the ability to "get gigs". I need to attract students to tutor, I do so through a tutor- contracting website known as wyzant. I substitute teach and have to hover around this website like an angry locust waiting for a teacher to make a sub request. I won't reveal two other jobs as that would be too personal, but I juggle a lot of jazz and it's interesting to say the least.


Now, whether or not this trend is a good thing, we deserve this as a society and I'll get to that later. I'll start by saying this can be very fun. I like all the work I do resulting from my ability to more easily choose this. I'm not hampered down by a job, I have a lot of freedom and independence, I have the chance to do things I believe are important in a way they should be done and I get to advocate for what I'm capable of doing when I remember to say things in that nature. Each day of my week is different and as they say variety is the spice of life, I certainly have this in my spice cabinet. My schedule can be flexible to make time for friends and family and in the end, I get paid to do the things I generally enjoy doing, which is just great.

From a negative standpoint is the lack of stability. It takes a while to piece jobs together and I can talk about how glamorous all the flexibility is until the economic reality hits you that you don't have much choice in your life when you're not bringing in the bacon enough. I have months where I'm up financially and months where I didn't get enough work together to feel like I'm financially viable. As mentioned here, any of the labor protection laws that were fought for in America's long history aren't able to conceptualize the gig economy and thus don't include them in their legislation. Things like unemployment, health insurance, and maternity leave (if I managed to hopefully get  pregnant) aren't covered for part-timers. Too bad. I do buy my own health insurance which Massachusetts can be nice about but it is still very expensive. 

From the viewpoint of society, I think the gig economy can be a great thing. I feel like I'm great for the economy. I'm like some type of fish in the ocean that trapses around a whale carcass and while other fish eat away at the good, satisfying, easy to reach parts of the whale, I wait till there's nothing left that the other fish want (say the bone marrow) and creatively devour that.  I'm not taking up that much in the way of available employment and I'm able to do work that full time employees won't do (with my ninja-like flexibility). Employers don't have to worry about "having work" for me to do full time as I'm not there full time and I can do a great job whenever somebody needs it. 

I think this trend just makes sense, and it's what we get as a society when so many of our institutions are this dysfunctional. Largely this is due to economics; it at least seems much more cost-effective to hire free-lancers than full timers. As many of our companies dwindle in profits, manage themselves poorly, or just become greedier; this is a result. Largely this is due to our mess of health and health care in our country. With soaring health care prices, it becomes so expensive to provide health insurance that it's a cost companies sometimes can't really (or prefer not to) handle. Whatever the factors are, it all adds up to pushing out the full time worker. 

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