If you’ve read the economics section of a newspaper in the last few years, you’ve probably run into the phrase “gig economy.” Some decry its existence as a failure of our traditional workforce. Some welcome it as a needed break from the status quo. There are certainly pros and cons of joining the gig economy one way or another. And if you’re hitting the job market in 2021, you should learn about it.
The term “gig” refers to a short-term job. Someone might have a summer “gig” helping out with a children’s camp or a “gig” playing music at a coffee shop for a night. A gig economy is an economy based on workers doing these sorts of independent jobs.
For instance, say you were a web designer. Instead of getting hired by a company, you would be an independent worker whom different companies could hire. Websites like Fiverr, Freelancer, and even sites like Airbnb and DoorDash open the door for people to offer their services.
In the past, spending your entire career at a single company was the norm. The gig economy has turned that idea on its head by putting control of one’s career in the hands of workers themselves instead of company managers. In a sense, you can decide what you want your job to look like.
Let’s take the poster child of the gig economy as an example: Uber. For many, Uber is a “side hustle” to put a little extra money in their pocket. However, rideshare drivers can make more simply by adjusting how much they work and when. Since they’re independent contractors working for themselves more than Uber, they can make the choices that will best benefit them and switch careers with little effort.
The total control of your career is both a pro and con of joining the gig economy. You get to decide which jobs to take and which to leave, but that means you have to find the jobs, too. While websites can help connect people to clients, the work isn’t always as consistent as a nine-to-five job. You also lose out on the other advantages of a stable job, like health benefits and work culture.
Love it or hate it, the gig economy is our current reality. As you decide what direction you want to go with your career, it’s good to know “gigging” is a choice. Choice is what the gig economy is about, after all.
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