Gig economy: A safety net for workers

The gig economy, which took root during the Great Recession, has emerged over the past year as a safety net for workers – who say they wouldn’t have been able to pay rent “a couple times” without it – as the COVID health crisis sparked an economic crisis.

Food delivery companies, in particular, expanded rapidly as many leaned on meal and grocery delivery to their homes so they didn’t have to go out.

But while gig work offers the promise of a financial lifeline and a flexible schedule, it also comes with uncertainties that can prompt complicated tradeoffs, especially for parents.

Largely treated as independent contractors, gig workers typically do not have protections such as a minimum hourly wage.

As a result, how much workers make at any given time is dependent on a number of factors, including what orders an algorithm surfaces, customer demand, how many other workers are on the road, and how much customers tip.

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