Advanced markets for irregular work

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Low-skilled employment is disintegrating. Instead of steady jobs, workers are increasingly summoned and paid as required hour-by-hour. This demands a new kind of labor market.

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“Gig work” platforms make headlines. But they are the tip of an iceberg. For tens of millions of corporate employees, fluctuating hours are replacing traditional employment. Meanwhile, America’s shadow economy has reached 10% of GDP. The bulk of this under-the-table activity is low-paid, irregular, hourly work.

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30% of all workers could already be in this pattern of employment, often outside the formal economy. Their work is typically insecure with limited benefits, prospects or protections.

There are many interventions that could help this workforce. But the underlying need is sustainable marketplaces that drive quality for workers and employers. Operating at scale, each local market has to allow every person to sell hours of their choosing, on their own terms, across as many types of work as they wish. Each needs pathways to increased stability, skills and earnings.

Britain’s government funded core technologies and learning around these markets. Last winter 25 American workforce bodies collaborated on a report into the US possibilities, funded by Casey Foundation. Walmart Foundation are now funding key recommendations.

 

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