Portable Benefits for Gig Workers Touted as New Data Released on Their Prevalence

June 08, 2018

A ManpowerGroup report and a congressional hearing on Millennials and the gig economy headlined calls for portable benefits, including those regarding health care, retirement, training funds, disability, and life insurance.

“Policymakers will need to grapple with the social contract created in the 20th century,” said Steven Olikara, President of the Millennial Action Project, at the hearing.  “We need to improve portability of benefits from gig to gig—benefits such as health care, retirement savings, workers compensation, disability and life insurance, paid sick leave, education and training benefits, and more.”

The ManpowerGroup study similarly called for revamping workplace policy to meet the new needs, saying, “Benefits that were once tied to jobs now need to be NextGen too, able to travel across portfolio careers whether that’s certifications, pensions, training funds and more.” 

The incredible shrinking gig economy?  Newly-released data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the gig economy is shrinking, with 10.1 percent of Americans engaged in gig work in 2017 as opposed to 10.9 percent in 2005, the last time the BLS gathered such data.

Not so fast: The BLS data does not count those who engage in gig work on a supplemental or occasional basis—about half of gig workers, according to most studies.  Other studies contradict the BLS data.  A recent Princeton study, for example, claims the gig economy is expanding, with 15.8 percent of workers having participated in gig work in 2015.