October 27, 2016
Overlooked. BLS Planting Seeds to Affect Policy: How big is the ‘Gig’ Economy?
The alphabet soup of federal agencies often undertakes little noticed actions that have far reaching effects. On September 30, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) embarked on one such journey.
Next May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will attempt to capture a more complete picture of the sharing or gig economy in America. BLS is seeking feedback on the four questions it proposes adding to the Contingent Worker Supplement to the Current Population Survey. You can review the Federal Register notice here. The deadline for comments is November 29, 2016.
The BLS notice is further acknowledgment that new technology and business models are reshaping, not just the consumer marketplace, but the U.S. workforce as well. Millions of Americans now participate in the sharing economy and revel in the opportunity and flexibility it affords them.
But, the emergence of the sharing economy is also provoking a necessary discussion about the future of work and benefits. U.S. laws and regulatory regimes cannot continue to rely on a 9-to-5, single employer conception of work increasingly reminiscent of a bygone era. In the years ahead, policymakers will be tasked with developing a new policy framework that empowers the U.S. worker with a greater freedom and independence from a single employer.
Development of a new framework for economic security and portable benefits, however, is contingent upon policymakers better understanding the size and growth of the sharing economy and its impact on the U.S. labor force. Greater clarity around the size, scope and growth of the sharing economy is necessary to inform the policy makers who will define the Twenty-First Century Workplace.