The Gig Economy Is Basically a Myth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics used to perform a contingent worker survey every couple of years, but they stopped doing it after 2005. Last year they started up again, which gives us a look at how the gig economy has grown since then. The closest category they have to “gig worker” is people who are on call for sporadic work, which looks like this:

In a nutshell, nothing has changed. Uber drivers might get notified of work via an app instead of a phone call, but that’s about it.

The BLS has several other definitions of contingent workers, but they don’t make any difference. No matter how you define it, contingent work hasn’t changed much since 2005:

Any way you slice it, the gig economy just isn’t a thing: it’s not large and it’s not growing. In fact, since Uber accounted for half these jobs in 2017 but none of them in 2005, it’s very likely that the non-Uber gig market has declined considerably over the past decade. The vast, vast majority of people want steady work, the same as they always have.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate