“The grind,” “the rat race,” “the 9 to 5,” — these are all phrases used to describe work in America. At least, that’s how it used to be.
“I’m sorry to say it, but you don’t have to stay in your shitty job because you’re making $60,000 or $100,000 a year because you feel like you have to. You don’t,” TaskRabbit contractor Evan Sokal told Fusion correspondent Alicia Menendez.
His solution? The gig economy. Also known as the sharing economy or the on-demand economy.
Whatever you choose to call it, Evan is part of a rapidly growing economy. By 2020, Intuit estimates 7.6 million Americans will be working primarily as on-demand providers—think of apps like Uber, Taskrabbit, among others.
And while this type of economy isn’t new, it is more accessible and bigger than ever before.
“Go through an app; pick your schedule. That was just unreal to me,” Handy contractor Karen Correa said.
With more than half of gig providers being between the ages of 18 and 34, the gig economy seems like the perfect fix for a generation that values flexibility.
“Auditions are like 9 to 5, so I can't be working a job 9 to 5, or I can't audition,” Sokal, who is an aspiring actor, said.
Correa turned to the gig economy as a way to balance motherhood and pursuing a college degree. She’s an aspiring teacher.
“When I had the baby, I didn't have any plan B as to, you know, what the job was going to look like,” Correa said.
While the list of gig-economy benefits goes on and on, it isn’t without its naysayers. With no safety net, the gig economy is raising tough questions about the future of the workplace and its lack of workplace protections.
But for the millions of gig economy providers, these realities of the on-demand economy take a backseat. For Sokal and Correa, it’s all about how to make things work for them in the here and now.
“I do have Medicaid. And if I didn’t, then I’d definitely try to look for a job that would give me that, but it’s not something that worries me now because I have it,” Correa said.
Sokal and Correra both hope their temporary participation in this economy will bring them one step closer to achieving their version of the American dream.
“I'm all about family, so, you know, you have your kids. They're eating, they're—we're able to enjoy a day together and not just commit to having to work all the time,” Correra said.
“It’s how I can live a fulfilling life where I am supporting myself and my family and yet, I’m doing something that has meaning to me and makes me happy,” Sokal said.
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