Gig workers choose freelance work for the flexibility and freedom it affords, and Democrats’ attempt to take that away could drive away key constituencies, including young people, urbanites, minorities, and immigrants.
My 24-year-old daughter has been in the workforce for less than a year, and she’s already had seven jobs! In my parent’s generation, a person often had fewer jobs than that in their entire career. What’s going on? She’s part of the new gig economy that accounts for an estimated 36 percent of today’s workforce.
Her first week after college graduation she started a full-time job in a medical office. She only lasted about three weeks. She complained that the job left her no time for her real passion, training for sprint triathlons. Like a good Gen X mother who graduated high school in the 1980s, I told her to buck up and put work first in her life. My generation grew up playing by the rules. It never occurred to me that I could work outside the system or that I would even want to work outside the system.
In my daughter’s case she now has two part-times jobs that together give her about 25 hours of work. In addition, she has picked up other jobs that last between a weekend to a few months (two were in sales, and one was in video production, one was in retail).
While her long-term goal is to be a medical doctor, my daughter said her current situation “Allows me more flexibility and allows me to make money and time for things I actually enjoy.”
While I can’t say I relate to her choices, I can appreciate the fact that her generation is making different choices with how to prioritize their time and support themselves.
Another young professional who has been a good friend of mine for several years similarly makes her living as an independent contractor and entrepreneur. Gabriella Hoffman, a media relations and branding specialist recently told me, “As more young people trend towards flexible work arrangements or the freelance economy and away from nine-to-five jobs, we are seeing big government essentially make it impossible for people to choose their career path.”
Hoffman is part of a grassroots fight against a bill in Congress, the PRO Act, that would make it harder for workers to strike out on their own.
Hoffman wrote in a recent Townhall guest column:
“Don’t be fooled by the PRO Act’s promise to “restore fairness” to the economy. It’s a Trojan horse designed to quash our nation’s burgeoning independent workforce. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021 sounds benign on the surface. But the devil is in the details. Among its many troubling components, two provisions stand out: repealing right-to-work laws for “fair share agreements” and implementing a national ABC test, borrowing from California’s disastrous AB5, to coerce independent contractors into employee arrangements.
“Very few freelancers want to be reclassified. In fact, they don’t want to be liberated from flexibility.
Fewer than one in 10 independent contractors support a traditional working environment. A 2019 Contently study similarly found 88 percent of independent contractors oppose worker reclassification laws.”
The Market Research Foundation (MRF) recently published an analysis that backs up what Hoffman is saying.
From the MRF analysis:
According to the Pew Research Center, gig workers skew significantly younger, more urban, and more ethnically diverse than the traditional 9-5 workforce. For instance, 30% of Hispanic adults have made money through an online gig platform, compared with 20% of Black adults, 19% of Asian adults and 12% of White adults. Pew also found that adults under age 50 are about twice as likely as those over 50 to have ever done any gig work.
MRF notes that President Biden’s attempt to “reclassify” gig workers as employees would “disrupt multiple business models taking away flex-work from as many as 59 million Americans.”
Richard Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government, recently penned a piece exposing Biden and the Democrats war on gig work, and warning that Democrats’ outdated view on work will cause a rift with young people.
“The labor market of this new decade is moving toward a more flexible, independent contractor model”, writes Manning. “It is this shift which will be the focus of legislative battles over employment law as Democrats seek to find ways to force these small business people into becoming dues payers to their labor union allies, while Republicans will likely seek to end laws and regulations which restrict people from taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by the 21st century 5G work environment.”
MRF warns that “Biden and big government bureaucrats at the federal level are attempting to do away with gig work, but it could cost them with minorities, young people, and urbanites. Data shows minorities, First Generation Americans, young people, and urbanites are the backbone of the gig economy, and choose this work for its flexibility and work-life balance.
According to financial research group Fortunly, over 90% of Americans would consider freelance work, and 85% of gig workers are planning to continue gig work for the next five or more years. They also found gig workers and freelancers are usurpingly located in urban hubs.
Fortunly’s findings indicate the millions of Americans who choose gig work do so for flexibility, and more control over their lives. For example, nearly 60% of gig workers consider their working conditions to be flexible, compared to only 27% of employees.
Market Research Foundation Chairman Bill Wilson put it this way: “If people want a full-time job, they are out there. But it comes with HR Departments, time clocks and inflexible work rules.”
Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications for Americans for Limited Government.
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