past event
Employment and Jobs

The 1099 Economy: Exploring a New Social Contract for Employers, Employees, and Society

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About the Event

Headlines about work abound with projections that employment as we know it is quickly fading away. Jobs are sliced-and-diced into “micro-tasks,” and employees are replaced by an army of contractors. Some blue-collar workers do not even know whom they work for, technically, due to the layers of contracting that separate them from the company to which they deliver services. The on-demand or “sharing” economy is exploding. Microenterprises are proliferating. Estimates of the percentage of the workforce that is “contingent” (or freelance, contract or self-employed) range widely from four to 40 percent.

This panel discusses the scope of these phenomena, what is driving this trend, and the implications for workers trying to earn a living in today’s economy. As the social contract between employers and employees deteriorates, how do workers access stable and adequate incomes, protections from abuse, and basic benefits like health care and retirement? As the nature of work evolves, how should labor and social policies evolve to ensure work in America can still lead families to a better future? Panelists explore policy alternatives for today and for the future.


Featured speakers

Sen. Mark Warner, US Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia
Sen. Warner was elected to the US Senate in November 2008 and reelected to a second term in November 2014. He serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget, and Intelligence committees. During his time in the Senate, Sen. Warner has established himself as a bipartisan leader who has worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to cut red tape, increase government performance and accountability, and promote private sector innovation and job creation.

Mark Warner spent 20 years as a successful technology and business leader in Virginia before entering public office. An early investor in the cellular telephone business, he co-founded the company that became Nextel and invested in hundreds of start-up technology companies that created tens of thousands of jobs.  From 2002 to 2006, he served as Governor of Virginia.  When he left office in 2006, Virginia was ranked as the best state for business, the best managed state, and the best state in which to receive a public education.

Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Board Chair, National Employment Law Project
Jared Bernstein joined the Center in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow. He is the Chair of the Board of Directors at NELP. From 2009 to 2011, Jared was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. He also has held senior positions at the Economic Policy Institute and the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books for both popular and academic audiences, including “Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People,” “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?,” nine editions of “The State of Working America,” and his latest book “The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity.” Jared has published extensively in various venues, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Financial Times. He is an on-air commentator for the cable stations CNBC and MSNBC, contributes to The New York Times’ Upshot blog and The Washington Post’s PostEverything blog, and hosts

Natalie Foster, Fellow, The Institute for the Future, and co-founder, Peers
Natalie has spent the last 15 years at the crossroads of social movements and technology. Most recently, Natalie co-founded and launched Peers as the organization’s first executive director. Peers supports workers in the sharing economy. Prior to Peers, she was the CEO and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for people-driven economic change, with Van Jones. Natalie also has worked for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee, the Sierra Club and In 2011 Natalie was named one of the Top Fifty Women to Watch in Tech.

Saket Soni, Director, National Guestworker Alliance and New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice
Saket Soni is the Executive Director and co-founder of the National Guestworker Alliance and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. Saket has crafted and led acclaimed campaigns on critical workers’ rights and immigrant rights issues that have won far-reaching organizing and policy victories and earned nationwide publicity. He has testified in Congress and authored numerous reports on civil and labor rights standards. Most recently, Saket is the convener of the New Worker Network, a national formation that is setting out to improve job quality, win job access, and design 21st century workforce development and safety net strategies for contingent workers.

David Williams, Chief Tax Officer, Intuit Inc.
David Williams helps lead and drive growth in Intuit’s various tax businesses including TurboTax, the largest do-it-yourself software solution in the United States, and Intuit’s professional products, which are used by thousands of tax practitioners. In this role, David also works with other Intuit businesses to shape their strategies, engage with external stakeholders and partners, and support industry initiatives. Prior to joining Intuit, David had a long career in tax policy and tax administration. He spent fourteen years as a US Senate staffer working primarily on tax issues for the Senate Budget Committee and for Sen. Bill Bradley. In his more than 13 years at the IRS, he held a number of positions, including Chief Communications Officer, Director of the Earned Income Tax Credit office, Director of Electronic Tax Administration, and Director of the Return Preparer Office.



Yuki Noguchi, National Correspondent, NPR
Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Since joining NPR in 2008, she’s covered business and economic news, and has a special interest in workplace issues – everything from abusive working environments, to the idiosyncratic cubicle culture. In recent years she has covered the housing market meltdown, unemployment during the Great Recession, and covered the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan in 2011. As in her personal life, however, her coverage interests are wide-ranging, and have included things like entomophagy and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining NPR, Yuki started her career as a reporter for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology, and later became an editor.

Yuki grew up with a younger brother speaking her parents’ native Japanese at home. She has a degree in history from Yale.


Related resources

Fact Sheet on The 1099 Economy 

Reimagining the Full-Time Job, By Zachary St. Louis in The Aspen Idea Blog

How Washington Can Strengthen the Safety Net for the 1099 Economy , by Senator Mark Warner in The Aspen Journal of Ideas

Sen. Mark Warner: Congress must lead on sharing economy, By Eric Schwartz in DC Inno

Overnight tech: Sen. Warner says clock is ticking for on-demand economy, By David McCabe in The Hill


This event is part of the Working in America series, an ongoing discussion series hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program that highlights an array of critical issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers in the United States and ideas for improving and expanding economic opportunities for working people. For more information, visit




Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #talkgoodjobs.

Event information
Thu Sep 10, 2015
12:00pm - 1:30pm GMT+0000
The Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036, United States