It’s a Gig Economy

April 2022

Most of today’s jobs are lower paying, less secure and in the service sector.  Jobs serving customers or selling – insurance, real estate, financial services – are on the rise.  Traditionally more stable jobs making things are on the decline.

The gig economy, self-employed workers entering into contracts to complete specific work or to work for a specific period of time, is on the rise.  In the last 15 years the proportion of individuals working in the gig economy has doubled.  Gig employees receive no benefits or vacation time.  They drive for Uber and deliver packages.  Others work as musicians, contractors, roofers, plumbers, and deliver food to your home.  Gig economy employees often work less than full-time and are easier to terminate.

Technology gave rise to gig employment while providing tools for remote offices, electronic communication, business tasks and information management.  Ironically, information technology is where the gig economy started and is now branching out.

Gig employment becomes the only practical option when traditional employment disappears.  Jobs are disappearing as Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart and others replace people with robots.  Cashiers have been replaced with automated check-out systems, and bank tellers with automated teller machines.  Walmart is now replacing employees with robots that roam aisles taking inventory and scanning shelves.  The job is done faster, more frequently and at lower cost.

Half of all retail jobs will soon be automated according to McKinsey & Co. estimates.  This includes jobs mentioned previously along with travel agents, realtors, cashiers, print media, and Canada Post.  Online systems are replacing sales people.  These are all service sector jobs which account for 70 percent of the economy.

It has become more difficult to find full-time employment offering benefits and a career path.  Corporate pensions no longer exist for 70 percent of employees.  Full-time employment has become more precarious.  Families get started later and the homes they purchase or rent are smaller.

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