Gig economy fosters labor exploitation

The gig economy has taken over in the last few years with the creation of apps that businesses can use to work remotely. This had a profound effect on the job market and on the economy because it altered the way people are choosing to both make their money and spend it.

Freelance jobs, once seen as a sign that a person could not find steady work, are now considered normal. People who balance several freelance jobs are now characterized as “demonstrating initiative” and being “go-getters.”

This change came about because the gig economy has changed the definition of a job. An article in the Harvard Business Review discussed how one professor told her MBA students that the first thing they need to do is stop looking for a “job” because companies are seeing jobs and work as two different things. She writes, “There are fewer full-time journalist jobs available anymore, for instance, but there is plenty of freelance reporting work.” In the gig economy, work is the name of the game. If employees are looking for a steady job at a company that they can make a career out of, they may be out of luck due to the shifting times.

The gig economy is not providing reliable jobs. Rather, it paints a sad picture of the effects the abysmal job market and economy have had on workers.

Often, there is rampant exploitation of workers in companies relying on freelance work. Companies take advantage of how desperate some people are to make money and turn their desperation into profit for themselves. Workers are often manipulated into working long hours for low wages. Lyft and Uber drivers may get the freedom of choosing their hours, but the amount of time they put into their work does not equal the pay.

A story in The New York Times by Noam Scheiber recently described psychological tactics companies like Uber use to get their drivers to continue working after they feel they have worked enough for the day. This causes an increase in company revenue, but a decrease in drivers’ per hour earnings.

The New Yorker recently published a story about how a pregnant Lyft worker was driving to the hospital because she had contractions, and chose to stop and pick up a customer on the way. Lyft used this to advertise how great its workers are, but the scenario is horrifying. Faux-inspirational stories like this only prove how people have been conned into putting their work first, sometimes ahead of their own needs.

If the gig economy forces people to live in this type of world—one in which health and basic human decency are on the backburner to things like profit—then it will soon drive humanity into the ground.