By now, most of us have heard about the 2010 study by software technology company Intuit, which holds that 40 percent of our workforce will be contingent, i.e. freelance, contract, self-employed, temp, etc., by 2020, and that traditional, full-time, full-benefit jobs will be harder to find. It's not hard to see that trend developing, whether it's Lyft and Uber offering tacos and bonuses in lieu of actual benefits; the rise of services like Elance, Fiver, Leapforce, and Taskrabbit (among many, many others); or the current contractor changes at Microsoft.
From the letter a contractor wrote to Brendan after last week's shakeup:
What's fascinating to me, in a very macabre way, is that many of my young co-workers don't know that there are actually jobs that provide good benefits. They have never experienced that so far and that says a great deal about what it's like to work in the US now.
People will say "why don't you get another job?" If only it were that easy. I'm in my mid-50s, MBA, 30+ years of international business experience and I can't find a decent job anywhere. I attribute this in part to very real ageism but I'll leave that for another day. The bottom line is that good-paying jobs are not plentiful any longer. The trend in business (especially in the tech world) is toward the use of contractors and paying them significantly less than they would a full-time employee. And they get away with it. It's truly a race to the bottom.
The trend raises several questions when we take just the briefest look under the hood. What happens when a significant percentage of our workforce becomes a demographic of independent agents who don't have legal backing from the companies they contract with, access to quality healthcare, no equity, and no safety net beyond the tatters of what was once available to them? What is the role of government regulation here? Will we see the return of collective bargaining, which business and globalization have spent the last few decades stamping out? Rand Paul blithely thinks technology will solve all of our problems, at least when he's standing in front of young and eager technology workers. What do you think?