Introducing our new series on the gig economy

Perhaps you’ve heard of the sharing economy or gig economy, likely in reference to services like Uber or Airbnb. But the gig economy goes well beyond a way to hail a ride or book a room. It includes a diverse and growing number of individuals who work contingent or contract-based jobs — that is, gigs.

More than one-fifth of Americans provide services via alternative work arrangements, and 42 percent have used on-demand services — and those numbers are growing.

And yet, 73 percent of Americans say they’re not familiar with the term “sharing economy.” Nine in 10 say they’re unfamiliar with the term “gig economy.”

Gig Life is a series that seeks to provide a better understanding of these concepts by exploring the news, numbers and individuals at the heart of a new economy.

Gig Briefs: Airbnb takes on discrimination, HR attracts VC

A sign outside an Airbnb office. | Courtesy of Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine/Flickr
Open Grid Scheduler/Flickr

In the face of growing criticism over its handling of discrimination against guests, Airbnb has released a revamped nondiscrimination policy.

Plus, with heightened demand for technology to facilitate temporary work, human resources startups like Snagajob have combined to raise $1.2 billion in venture capital so far this year.

Meanwhile, Uber continues to post losses at a rate almost unprecedented for a young tech company.


Gig Digits: 10 million Americans rely on temporary work

About 1 in 12 households in the United States relies on independent work for more than half of its income. That means a total of more than 10 million Americans make ends meet this way.

Gig Faces: David Spear on the freedom and burden of freelance art

David Spear, Columbia artist | Liying Qian/Missouri Business Alert
Liying Qian/Missouri Business Alert

David Spear has crafted a career out of contract work a freelance artist, but he says it can be “a little bit tricky.”

“Obviously, there’s the freedom to work whenever you want,” Spear said, “but that’s also a burden because every minute of your time you’re wondering what you could do and what you could work on.”


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