The Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative Partners with Cornell ILR School to Develop Gig Economy Data Hub

December 13, 2017

Partnership will produce an online data hub to better understand the growing gig economy

Contact: Erin McAlister
Communications Manager
Future of Work Initiative | The Aspen Institute
(202) 721-2324 |

Washington, DC, Dec. 13, 2017 – The Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative and Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations today announced a partnership to develop an online data hub to better understand the growing gig economy.

Increasingly more Americans are participating in the gig economy, working independently in place of or in addition to traditional, long-term, employer-employee relationships. The goal of the Gig Economy Data Hub is to serve as a centralized repository of information to address key questions about the size and composition of the gig economy.

Independent work in the United States is growing, but estimates of its size vary drastically – ranging from less than one percent to over 40 percent, depending on the definitions used.  The varying estimates are based on the use of a wide range of data sources. A better understanding of the data sources, and the strengths and weaknesses of these sources, will help researchers and policymakers identify effective policy solutions for gig economy workers.

The partnership between the Future of Work Initiative and Cornell’s ILR School aims to improve public understanding about the evolution of the gig economy by evaluating the varying gig economy data sources. The partnership will bring together different data sets – government, private, and academic – in order to identify overlaps and explain discrepancies. This approach will also highlight opportunities for further research.

“The composition of the American workforce is changing,” said Alastair Fitzpayne, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative. “We are pleased to partner with Cornell University in order to better understand the growing gig economy. Insights gained from access to this data will allow us to develop actionable policy solutions to address the challenges facing independent workers.”

Knowledge about this growing portion of the American workforce is needed to inform policies to address the challenges this population faces. The data hub aims to identify the biggest challenges independent workers face in order to better inform policy solutions. Beyond policymakers, access to this data is valuable to journalists, researchers, students, and members of the public alike.

Cornell ILR School Associate Professor Louis Hyman, director of the Institute for Workplace Studies, said, “We hope that this data hub will bring together all the exciting research that is being done in this space, so that policymakers, journalists, scholars and citizens can have more useful conversations over how our economy is changing.”

As technology and innovation continue to transform the nature of work, it is critical to understand and address the challenges of this change today, rather than wait to react to future disruptions. Through this partnership, the Future of Work Initiative and Cornell University seek to advance this conversation and develop solutions for the ever-changing 21st century economy.

The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative is a nonpartisan effort to identify concrete ways to address the challenges American workers and businesses face due to the changing nature of work in the 21st century. The Initiative focuses on policy solutions at the federal, state and local level to improve economic security for traditional and independent workers, encourage increased investment in worker training and education, and give workers the tools they need to succeed in the new economy. Established in late 2015, the Initiative is led by honorary co-chairs U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner and Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana, and is based in Washington, DC. For more information, visit or follow @AspenFutureWork on Twitter.

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