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The GM strike marches on

Sep 20, 2019

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How big is the gig economy?

Mitchell Hartman Sep 11, 2019
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A California bill is redefining what it means to be a gig economy worker. Above, an Uber Eats rider delivering food.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The California legislature has passed a bill that aims to force app-based platforms like Uber and Lyft to reclassify as employees some workers currently defined as independent contractors.

So-called “gig” work on app-based technology platforms has increased dramatically since the Great Recession. But, taken as a whole, non-traditional work arrangements (including freelance and independent contractor work, contract, temporary and on-call work) have not risen dramatically as a share of work done by the U.S. labor force.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest report, “Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements Summary” found that, in 2017, there were 10.6 million people who considered “independent contractor” their main job, amounting to 6.9% of total employment.

A study published last year by freelance platform Upwork and Freelancers Union found that 35% of Americans did some kind of freelance work in 2018.

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