On-demand workforce to include 7.6million people by 2020, new study says
“Neither regulatory battles facing Uber and Airbnb nor mounting pressure on tech startups to convert their independent contractors to employees will slow the rapid-fire growth of the on-demand workforce, according to a new study released Thursday.
The U.S. on-demand labor force is expected to include an estimated 7.6million by 2020, according to a study sponsored by Intuit. That represents more than double the 3.2 million people today who work for companies such as TaskRabbit and Uber, make money renting their homes and living rooms on Airbnb and Couchsurfing, and find freelance work through websites Elance and Upwork.
The boom of the on-demand economy, a sector of the tech industry built onapps and websites that connect a customer with a service, whether it’s lunch delivery or home repairs, follows the steady growth of self-employment overthe last three decades, said Alex Chriss, vice president and general manager of the self-employed business unit at Intuit. In 1986, just 6 percent of American workers were freelancers, contractors or self-employed; today that number is about 34 percent, and Chriss expects it to hit at least 40 percent, or about 66 million people, by 2020.
The on-demand economy, hitting 7.6 million, would represent 11 percent of thetotal self-employed workforce in just five years. ‘Wow, this could really explode,’ Chriss said. ‘This could be the way that people match up’ to do business. …
Ironically, recent trends in Silicon Valley suggest the longevity of independent contractor workforce may be threatened — facing lawsuits from workers over their alleged misclassificaiton as independent contractors, tech companies have been converting their workforces to full- and part-time employees. Grocery delivery app Instacart and courier service Shyp made the switch, and home tech repair startup Eden and food-delivery service Sprig, while they have not been hit with lawsuits, got ahead of the matter by reclassifying workers.
Some workers and tech industry experts argue that these startups would not survive without their delivery drivers and service providers, many of who rely on the job for their sole income and deserve to have benefits such as health care, sick days and workers’ compensation.
Chriss, however, said this sentiment is largely a misconception of what workers want in a freelance job. What’s more, nearly 80 percent of the Intuit survey respondents said their on-demand work is part-time. ‘There isn’t this feeling out there that ‘I want to be an employee for an employer,” he said.”