past event
Employment and Jobs

Working in America: The Future of Work in the Sharing Economy

Audio (MP3)

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Access to Data is Key
Empowering Workers
Mitigating Risk

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About the Event

The sharing economy has gained traction and attention in the last few years. Also known as the “gig economy,” “consumer-to-consumer sharing,” and “peer-to-peer marketplaces,” the term “sharing economy” is used to describe a wide variety of exchanges between people, including property, skills, labor, or space. By using an online platform to connect users and providers, this system puts a modern spin on old-fashioned bartering, swapping, borrowing, and trading — and greatly expands the scope and scale of potential exchanges.

Sharing economy companies include Airbnb (rent a room or your house), Uber (provide rides), TaskRabbit (do chores for others), and Instacart (be a personal grocery shopper), to name a few. There were an estimated 80 million sharers in the United States in 2013 – although that included 33 million “resharers,” those who buy and/or sell pre-owned goods online at sites like Craigslist (Vision Critical and Crowd Companies).

Revenue estimates vary from $3.5 billion in the U.S. in 2013 (Forbes) to $335 billion globally in 2025 (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Many have touted this system’s benefits for consumers, including convenient and affordable services and shared goods. But what are the benefits — and the downsides — of the sharing economy for the workers who provide the services? What is the influence of the sharing economy on the future of work? What are the implications for public policy and business practice?

Panelists explored these issues and more.


Featured speakers

Shelby Clark
Executive director, Peers

Sarah Kessler
Reporter, Fast Company

Wingham Rowan
Director, Beyond Jobs

Steven Strauss
Visiting professor, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University



Catherine Rampell
Opinion writer, The Washington Post


Related resources

Fact Sheet on The Future of Work in the Sharing Economy

Catherine Rampell: What preschoolers can teach Silicon Valley about “sharing”
By Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post

Regulation for Bricks, Clicks, and the Sharing Economy
By Steven Strauss in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

Irregular Work for the 21st Century: a Model from Britain?
By Wingham Rowan in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

The Downside to Lower Labor Costs in the Sharing Economy
By Maureen Conway in the Huffington Post


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
Tue Dec 2, 2014
12:00pm - 1:30pm GMT+0000
Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700, Gildenhorn Conference Room
Washington, DC, United States