Jeff Tennery: Is the Sharing Economy Creating Quality Jobs?
The CEO Moonlighting, the first on-demand mobile marketplace, on why short-term micro-jobs are here to stay and what we can do to improve their impact
With the rise of income marketplaces like Uber and Airbnb, people are trying to define what this part-time employment phenomenon should actually be called. Some are calling it the “sharing economy” or the “on-demand economy,” all in an attempt to describe this seismic shift in employment.
But thanks to the millennial generation, this change in employment status has become hip and cool. Hipsters from the latest generation have also coined it as the “gig economy” and are embracing the part-time status, rather than actively fighting it.
Back in 2008, when the market crashed and full-time jobs evaporated, millennials graduating from college were left with few secure employment opportunities. This particular group had very little choice but to move into their parents’ basement and work entry-level jobs that did not match their degrees or interests.
Seven years later, instead of complaining about it, millennials have embraced the shift and turned employment on its head.
Technology—especially mobile technology—is now being used every day by millennials to unlock and uncover job opportunities. The savviest from this mobile-first generation are stringing together a series of jobs and pursuing careers they actually care about.
Uber’s success has launched a litany of gig economy players all emulating the curated services model in an attempt to satisfy the insatiable thirst for the millennials to work. But the challenge for many of these 1.0 gig economy players is that they can’t scale beyond a few cities and provide their work force with enough quality jobs to make a living.
Part of this challenge is rooted in the fact that these venture-backed companies do not have enough capital to drive demand. Uber and Airbnb can do it because they have billions of dollars to create demand. Other smaller players cannot do it at scale, eventually run out of cash, and are relegated to focus on small geographic pockets for success. This leaves consumers who want to participate on the hiring side out in the cold.
The gig economy is being forced to evolve very quickly because corporations are just not going to forgo quarterly profits for full-time job additions. Technologies and new platforms that can address wider audiences geographically are needed to reach those who need employment most.
Tools like Moonlighting are being built to address the gap in earnings, using social media and programmatic technology to bring more people together. As idle time and work capacity are more easily communicated to audiences of demand, the job quality and overall earnings amount will increase.
Since launching eight months ago, Moonlighting has seen the average gig double, from $180 per job to $363 in June 2015, showing that short-term micro-jobs are improving as tools and technology bring more parties together.
This latest economic trend for earning a living is a trend we do not see ever reversing. If anything, the pendulum will eventually swing in the favor of the American worker. I envision workers becoming “free agents,” with the most talented and adept at using mobile technology driving higher wages and income growth outside the conventional corporate world of full-time employment.
Gone are the days where corporations take risk in full-time hiring. It’s safer and more advantageous for them to pay per project or gig. As workers become better versed in using technology, they will create leverage and command higher wages and turn the tide on corporations. A day where millennials and future generations prefer 1099 employment and earn far more income is just around the marketplace.
Jeff Tennery is the founder and CEO of Moonlighting, the first on-demand mobile marketplace that empowers people to hire freelancers and find work on their own terms to supplement income, build their portfolio and break into new industries. Prior to Moonlighting, Jeff spent more than 25 years in senior executive leadership roles at Verizon, AT&T Wireless, nTelos, and Millennial Media. During the past year, Jeff was “moonlighting,” helping friends and co-founders on nights and weekends build.
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