Monday, June 22, 2015

Mark Warner On "On Demand" Work Force


I wanted to let you know about a significant issue I’ve started to focus on: the big shifts occurring in the workplace and among the workforce as more and more people work “on-demand” in what’s called the "sharing economy".

Whether by economic necessity or by choice, as many as one-third of American workers now piece together several on-demand opportunities to make a living. And with continuous advances in technology, that number continues to grow, especially as the Millennial generation enters the workforce.

Today, online platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit and Etsy can provide easy-to-use digital platforms to match supply and demand for goods and services. These innovations are changing the traditional employee-employer dynamic.

The sharing or on-demand economy, where people are contract or freelance workers, provides exciting opportunities in terms of freedom and flexibility in hours and work-life balance. But many of these on-demand jobs do not provide traditional safety net protections for workers: unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation for injuries, or pension and retirement planning.

Yet Washington has mostly remained on the sidelines as the U.S. economy, its workforce and the work place, have undergone perhaps the most dramatic transformation in decades. As policymakers, we have a role to play with this tremendous shift.

Earlier this month, I delivered a speech about the potential impacts of generational and technological changes on the American economy. My recent op-ed in the Washington Postexplored some ways that policymakers might begin to address these challenges.

Finally, as I work to find solutions to make this sharing or on-demand economy work better for more people, I’d like to hear from you. If you are working in this on-demand economy, tell us your story: Is it working for you? Could it work better? What are the advantages of this type of work? Do you see any downsides?

Please email your thoughts to:

Thank you,

Mark R. Warner

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