Gig Briefs: subsidizes benefits; ride-hailing causes real estate ripples

In brief

Cooking up a new business model

With backing from investors including Shake Shack founder and St. Louis native Danny Meyer, New York-based startup Umi Kichen is expanding its service that connects diners with home chefs. Umi Kitchen, which allows anyone to order home-cooked meals through its mobile app, has been available in Brooklyn since April and moved into Manhattan this week, Business Insider reports. Along with similar services like Blue Apron, Plated and Purple Carrot, it represents a growing category of the gig economy. to subsidize benefits, an online marketplace that connects families with babysitters, nannies and caregivers, announced Wednesday that it will offer workers up to $500 a year in order to help with their health care, transportation or education expenses, the New York Times reports. This approach represents a new way to financially support individuals who receive income from multiple sources but lack the benefits of traditional employment and are faced with a thin safety net.

Ride-hailing drives dip in parking

The ripples of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are being felt in decisions made by developers of major residential projects, the Wall Street Journal reports. Namely, the on-demand ride services make owning a vehicle less of a priority for some and have led to more housing without parking spaces.

The rise of self-driving car may further curb parking needs. “Having parking wedded or close to where people spend time, that’s going to be a thing of the past,” Alain Kornhauser, a self-driving car expert at Princeton University, told the Wall Street Journal.

Uber’s self-driving car

Uber started a pilot program using self-driving cars with some of its “most loyal” customers this week in Pittsburgh, MarketWatch reports. With a backup driver behind the wheel and an engineer in the front seat, automated Ford Fusions navigated the city’s streets.

Compared to manned vehicles, the driverless cars still struggle with some obstacles, such as gauging whether to tun right on red lights. Uber has promised to rectify those issues soon.

New app aids gig hunting

ShiftPixy earlier this month announced a new app that provides a scheduling and recruiting platform for shift-driven industries such as restaurants, hospitality and health care. The app currently serves 3,500 employees in the workforce and 150 clients, the company said in a release. With an at-a-glance design, it provides workers with a summary of shifts, duration, pay rate, address, distance and time from their current location.

Digging deeper

IRS grapples with growth of gigs

The gig economy has been growing, but the tax system hasn’t kept pace, the Fiscal Times reports, and the IRS is worried about losing billions in tax collections. More than 2.5 million taxpayers earned income in 2014 through sharing economy businesses, but their income was often left unreported. To resolve the confusion surrounding tax rules for gig workers, the IRS created a Sharing Economy Tax Center, guiding workers to meet their tax obligations from filing requirements to tax payments.

Gig Briefs provides a roundup of top news and occasional long reads on the gig economy.

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