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The Gig Economy Beyond COVID-19

The gig economy is constantly evolving, becoming more deeply entrenched in certain areas of the economy while looking to expand into others. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend by forcing changes in the behavior of individuals and businesses that is certain to outlast the health crisis.

Many gig workers saw a significant increase in work opportunities and hourly pay beginning in mid-March, while many traditional workers had their hours or pay reduced, were laid off, or furloughed. One example is the recent shift to exclusive online learning by traditional primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools which has introduced computer-based learning to many for the first time. This will likely increase demand for freelance teachers and educators which has been growing consistently for many years.

A recent article in SmartCompany predicts the gig economy will “boom in the post-COVID-19 world.” The author opines that post-COVID-19, business organizations will retain a “leaner structure” and turn to “freelance professionals as their go-to resource for services including brand, creative and digital marketing.” A recent article in Forbes,6 Trends That Will Shape the Gig Economy the 2020s,” offers a similarly upbeat assessment and identifies several important changes that are likely to occur over the next 10 years. While automation will continue to impact opportunities for gig workers, the author predicts some traditional management jobs will become gig work and that stigma associated with gig work will diminish. In addition, the author predicts more gig-worker-friendly legislation and regulations will be enacted (see our March 3, 2020 post for a discussion on this point) to form a changed legal landscape permitting gig workers to unionize, while allowing greater business services targeting of gig workers.

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