Panel: Gig Economy and the Future of Work
(Employment and Training Programs)

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Ballroom F (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Sam Bufe, Washington University in St. Louis
Panel Chair:  Yung Chun, The Ohio State University
Discussant:  David Newville, Prosperity Now

The labor market has undergone substantial changes in recent decades. Technological advancements have facilitated the rise of the gig economy – the segment of the labor force in which workers can earn income through short-term employment contracts. As the gig economy continues to grow, there is an increased need to understand the reasons why workers participate in this segment of the labor force and how various public policies impact this participation. This panel includes four papers. The first two papers investigate the types of workers that earn money through the gig economy. The third and fourth papers investigate the ways in which changes to a household’s financial circumstances impact their willingness to work in this sector.

The first paper explores trends in self-employment and gig employment across generations. Using data from the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors compare self-employment and gig income patterns for men and women. Among millennials, women with children are more likely to earn self-employment or gig income than women without children; a pattern which did not hold for men. The authors then contrast these patterns with those observed in the previous generation. The findings shed light on the changes in the type of worker who earns income in the growing gig economy.

The second paper uses survey data to investigate the factors that are associated with informal and gig work arrangements. The author finds that an individual’s demographic characteristics and work identity can be predictive of participation in the gig economy but that social identities were not associated with statistically significant changes in the rates of gig participation. The author discusses implications of these findings for future research.

The third paper explores the role of liquidity in the decision to work in the gig economy. The authors estimate the effects of tax refund savings experiment on participation in the gig economy. They find that savings reduced the rate of gig work for students and increased the rate of gig work for liquidity-constrained non-students. Findings from this paper highlight potential barriers (like access to liquidity) that that may be preventing certain economically vulnerable households from entering this growing labor market.

The final paper investigates the impacts of the minimum wage on the number of people doing in minimum wage-exempt work like driving for Lyft and Uber. Leveraging the staggered rollout of Uber into cities across the United States and regional variation in minimum wage laws, this paper finds that the a higher minimum wage is associated with increases in the number of workers in minimum-wage exempt sectors. The author discusses how these findings fit with the broader understanding of the impacts of the minimum wage.

Together, these papers highlight the ways that different types of workers are adapting to evolving labor market. The papers’ findings provide context for researchers and policymakers who are interested in understanding the future of work in the United States.

Differences in How Men and Women Interact with the Gig Economy and Self Employment: An Analysis of the NLSY
Elaine Maag, H. Elizabeth Peters, Breno Braga and Alphonse Simon, Urban Institute

How Does Savings Affect Participation in the Gig Economy? Evidence from a Field Experiment
Sam Bufe1, Stephen Roll1, Olga Kondratjeva1, Bradley Hardy2 and Michal Grinstein-Weiss1, (1)Washington University in St. Louis, (2)American University

The Minimum Wage and the Gig Economy
Benjamin N. Glasner, University of Washington

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