Summary of Workers and the Online Gig Economy

A Hamilton Project Framing Paper

The Hamilton Project,

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Workers and the Online Gig Economy summary
As “gig” labor becomes more popular, questions about how to regulate this new economy become more urgent.


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What effect will the continued expansion of a digital, on-demand “gig” economy have upon employment and government regulation? In this succinct, well-researched article, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Jane Dokko and Megan Mumford of The Hamilton Project explore why contingent labor is on the rise in the United States. They dissect concerns for worker welfare, and look at the reasons why more up-to-date and nuanced regulation is necessary to safeguard both workers and employers. getAbstract recommends this evaluation to policy makers, business owners and those employed in the gig economy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why contingent labor is on the rise in the United States
  • What benefits and concerns exist for workers and employers in the “online gig economy,”
  • Why existing classifications and regulations for contingent labor may require additions and revisions


Technological progress and an increase in the number of workers looking for employment in the aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession have given rise to a digital, on-demand “gig” economy. In this labor environment, employers can offer and workers can accept work with no obligation, on either side, to continue the employment relationship once the job is complete. Current survey numbers vary when it comes to determining the exact number of Americans working as contingent laborers, but given the “rising consumer demand” for such labor, it seems evident that the market for gig labor will only continue to grow.

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About the Authors

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach is director, Jane Dokko is policy director and Megan Mumford is a research assistant at The Hamilton Project, which drafts policy proposals on improving the US economy.

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