"With deep reporting and graceful storytelling, Sarah Kessler reveals the ground truth of a key part of the American workforce. Her analysis is both astute and nuanced, making GIGGED essential reading for anyone interested in the future of work." —Daniel H. Pink, author of WHEN and DRIVE
The full-time job is disappearing—is landing the right gig the new American Dream?
One in three American workers is now a freelancer. This “gig economy”—one that provides neither the guarantee of steady hours nor benefits—emerged out of the digital era and has revolutionized the way we do business. High-profile tech start-ups such as Uber and Airbnb are constantly making headlines for the disruption they cause to the industries they overturn. But what are the effects of this disruption, from Wall Street down to Main Street? What challenges do employees and job-seekers face at every level of professional experience?
In the tradition of the great business narratives of our time, Gigged offers deeply-sourced, up-close-and-personal accounts of our new economy. From the computer programmer who chooses exactly which hours he works each week, to the Uber driver who starts a union, to the charity worker who believes freelance gigs might just transform a declining rural town, journalist Sarah Kessler follows a wide range of individuals from across the country to provide a nuanced look at how the gig economy is playing out in real-time.
Kessler wades through the hype and hyperbole to tackle the big questions: What does the future of work look like? Will the millennial generation do as well as their parents? How can we all find meaningful, well-paid work?
Reporter Kessler delivers a stark, skimpy look at the future of work. She begins by describing how, when she graduated from college, in the middle of the 2008 recession, there were few full-time jobs to be had, and increasingly more part-time, "contingent" jobs. She goes on to examine both sides of the gig economy: the one creating opportunity, and the one increasing insecurity and risk. Business leaders quoted here, including Stan Chia of Grubhub and Carole Woodhead of Herm s UK, identify flexibility as a primary benefit of this kind of work, whether it's driving a car for Uber or prowling for short-term tasks on Mechanical Turk, Amazon's crowdsourced task marketplace. Contrary to Silicon Valley's optimism, the gig economy is not a net positive, argues Kessler, particularly for low-wage workers like the house cleaner she describes commuting two hours to earn $10 an hour. Restructuring the way people work is a good idea, the author writes, but it's also necessary to fix the support structures underlying the economy. Kessler concludes that the U.S. needs another labor movement, another New Deal, or similar revolutionary idea to accompany such a radical change, while warning it took decades for legislators to address the comparable disruptions brought by the Industrial Revolution. This is a brief study stretched to book length; good points are made, but on the whole it feels light. Agent: Alia Hanna Habib, McCormick Literary