In a bright and open space nestled in a grid of streets lined with fruit trees and mom & pop shops in Astoria, a young man looked up from his laptop and stretched, eyeing his empty coffee cup. As he walked over to the kitchen area, he fist-bumped a friend coming out of the presentation room who just pitched her newest service to a group of investors. At the other end of the room, a cluster of prototypes covered the table.
Another day, another website. Another app. Another product. And yes, dollars.
Welcome to the Gig Economy.
Some people took offense to Hillary Clinton’s comments about how Americans are making extra money in the so-called gig economy.
Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a small room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This on-demand, or so-called gig economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation.
But it is also raising hard questions about work-place protections and what a good job will look like in the future.
Welcome to the artist’s life.
This is not a new thing for creative professionals. This is what artists have always done to support themselves.
Not sure I agree with the part about creating exciting economies. Most self employed or freelance workers going from gig to gig would not describe their financial situations as exciting. Terrifying at times, yes.
Truthfully, I am happy this is now part of the articulated economic vision of a Presidential hopeful. It is an important reality for so many people who are making a living like working artists and deserves to be part of a national conversation among potential leaders.
Work place protections – insurance, liability coverage, pension, benefits – these have always been elusive for the Starving Artist and Friends. In addition to those, what about copyrights, intellectual property, royalties, commissions? Are these included in the hard questions we need to ask ourselves?
What I hope to see more of are people like Howard Schultz of Starbucks and 20 big American corporations who have come together with a plan to find jobs for 100,000 unemployed young people over the next three years.
The effort, to be called the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, is aimed at the estimated 5.6 million Americans ages 16 to 24 who are neither studying nor working, and will offer full-time positions as well as apprenticeships and internships.
“We’re living at a time when for-profit public companies must redefine their responsibilities to the communities they serve and to their employees,” he said.
There are some big philanthropies involved in this effort including the Rockefeller Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation as well as many types of businesses.
It is exciting to have the focus of a Presidential candidate, businesses and foundations on where our economy is heading and the consequence of policies created around it.
You can read the entire transcript of her remarks here.
Let me know what kinds of workplace protections you would love to have to make this gig economy work for you in the comments.
I get to collar politicians and this is something worth pitching.