Workforce Development

Future of Work Initiative partners with Cornell ILR School to launch the Gig Economy Data Hub

December 14, 2017  • Libby Reder, Ethan Pollack & Shelly Steward

We are excited to announce that the Future of Work Initiative is partnering with Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School to develop the Gig Economy Data Hub, an online resource devoted to increasing our understanding of the gig economy. The Gig Data Hub, launching in early 2018, will provide policymakers, journalists, researchers, gig workers, and the general public with accessible and comprehensive information about what we know and don’t know about the gig economy and those who earn income in this part of the economy.

The number of Americans participating in the gig economy has grown with millions working independently in place of – or in addition to – traditional, long-term, employer-employee relationships. But estimates of the size and growth rate of the gig economy vary drastically – ranging from less than one percent to over 40 percent of the workforce. A central challenge is that data are currently drawn from a wide range of sources that use different definitions of independent work. Some studies, for example, only consider online-platform work, such as work driving for Uber or Lyft, while others count any temporary work arrangement. This lack of consensus creates confusion, especially for those without the time or expertise to examine the various methodologies used by different studies.

The Gig Data Hub will highlight the critical information necessary to design effective policy solutions for today’s workers, including size, makeup, and history of the gig economy. Independent work and the gig economy relate to nearly every domestic policy area: health care, the tax code, social insurance programs, workforce training, and worker protections. The Gig Data Hub aims to help inform these conversations.

The Gig Data Hub will build on our 2016 report Data on the Sharing & On-Demand Economy: What We Know and Don’t Know by discussing and analyzing the existing data, including public, private, and academic research. It will identify areas of agreement, explain discrepancies between studies, and suggest where further research is needed. It will also provide analysis when new reports are released, highlighting how each study adds to the growing body of knowledge.

As the nature and structure of work continue to evolve, understanding these changes and the challenges they pose to workers is crucial. Through this partnership, the Future of Work Initiative and Cornell University’s ILR School seek to further this understanding and develop solutions for the ever-changing 21st century economy.