Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
America’s independent workforce is too big to fail.
During the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, top Wall Street financial institutions enjoyed the privilege or perception of being deemed “too big to fail.”
Congress had a response to the crisis. It passed Dodd-Frank regulations to promote the financial stability of the United States by “improving accountability and transparency in the financial system.” It also prohibited federal government bailouts of so-called swap dealer banks.
The current COVID-19 public health crisis has created severe economic pain rivaling the Great Depression. This forced Congress to recognize the merits of gig workers by providing them with temporary access to unemployment insurance compensation.
The independent workforce — self-employed breadwinners, 1099 laborers, freelancers and contractors — have a massive effect on the economy, making them too big to fail.
“Nearly $2 trillion of the U.S. GDP every year is produced by independent workers,” Carl Camden, founder and president of iPSE-U.S., told the Traders Network Show at the 2019 Converge2Xcelerate Conference.
Camden has dedicated more than 25 years of his life to advocating for the independent workforce. These workers in America, he said, have traditionally “faced discrimination in access to benefits and access to workplace safety.”
McKinsey Global Institute, a private-sector think tank, published an October 2016 report finding “there are 54 million to 68 million independent earners in the United States.”
In other words, one-third of the American workforce collects wages from gig economy endeavors.
As of October 2020, America has approximately 161 million workers or prospective workers aged 16 or older, not including active-duty military members or prison inmates, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released earlier this month.
Based upon McKinsey’s research, independent workers today comprise 33% to 42% of the U.S. labor force. This suggests the U.S. economy may never recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn if the government fails to adequately support independent workers.
Hollie Heikkinen, CEO and founder of iWorker Innovations, the first organization to represent America’s independent workforce, said independent workers range from the on-call “Uber and Lyft driver all the way to very highly paid PhD scientists that are working independently.”
At the 2019 Converge2Xcelerate Conference, Heikkinen said independent workers should join iPSE, especially because these workers “don’t traditionally have access to a portable benefit structure; they don’t have retirement planning and access; they don’t have protection from discrimination or workplace safety.”
Camden at the end of the conference said, “I leave with more hope that we are going to come up with solutions to make the world fairer for America’s independent workers, and they are going to have access to health care, and that there’s a lot of great people here who care that they do.”
The coronavirus pandemic could very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, forcing American politicians to respect the lives and livelihoods of independent workers for the perennial long haul.
“It doesn’t matter which side you vote for, but it does matter who you vote for,” Camden said. “There is strong Democratic support for our endeavors, because they see us providing a very-needed social safety net for independent workers. The Republican Party sees a very strong need for this, because they believe it will boost entrepreneurship and small business creation in this country, so we don’t have any problem finding advocates inside both parties.”
When it concerns goods and services, independent workers matter.
By: Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman