Are There Any Jobs in the Gig Economy?

Since the year 2000 the number of jobs in the Part-Time Economy has steadily increased. But these jobs in retail, bars, restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, stadiums and temp agencies average less than 30 hours per week and generate annual pay of less than $20,000. From an economic viewpoint, they are gigs, not jobs.
Some people may be working a “gig” and a job, or multiple gigs, or multiple jobs. Many of those multiple part-timers are double counted in the nonfarm payroll jobs report that comes out monthly. Those working “gigs” and how they are paid, adds to the existing measurement confusion and double-counting of those working multiple part-time jobs. All of the unemployment and job reports are suspect.
Atomization of work
In the detailed breakout of wage and salary income that is published annually by the social security administration, the data on payroll earnings by annual income bracket is based not on surveys, estimates, imputations and models like the BLS figures, but reflect actual individual payroll records. No employer sends withholding taxes to the IRS based on phantom jobs slots.
Last year 158.2 million US workers had payroll records and withholding taxes and earned $7.1 trillion in compensation. 49 million or 31% if these workers earned less than $15,000 per year. Part-timers and gig based workers generated only $300 billion of wages or only 4% of the national total. On average they earned just $6,200 during the entire year.
The monthly ‘Jobs Friday’ report is the cycling up-and-down of part-time jobs and gigs on the margins of the economy. Without so much as a wink or nudge, reality TV business pundits indulge in counting slots mainly in the bottom 49 million of payroll records.
The bottom 58% of the work force earned less than 20% of reported wage and salary income, and clearly worked exceedingly limited hours. Either that or the IRS is collecting taxes from employers who wantonly violate the minimum wage laws since the average wage for the bottom 81 million workers computes to $6.30 per hour on a standard work year.
In contrast to zero growth in hours worked in the total business sector, and a 0.4% annual growth in the BLS’ measure of full-time employment since the turn of the century, the ultimate category of gigs and episodic work, waiters and bartenders has grown at a 1.9% annual rate.These categories accounted for 30% of all the “jobs” created in the American economy since the turn of the century, as reported in the BLS monthly establishment survey. 
The evidence of a failing jobs market is there if you separate the gigs and the low-end service jobs from the categories which represent more traditional full-pay, full-time employment.
The latter includes energy and mining, construction, manufacturing, the white-collar professions like architects, accountants and lawyers and the finance, insurance and real estate sectors. It also includes designers and engineers, information technology, transportation and warehousing and about 11 million full-time government employees outside of the education sector.
Notwithstanding all of the present era crafting, even the BLS  survey figures leave no doubt about the retreat of higher paying, professional jobs. At the peak in January 2001 there were 72.7 million of these genuine “jobs”, but that figure has never been seen again in this century.
As a statistical matter, these 70.66 million breadwinner jobs account for just under 50% of the establishment survey’s 142.9 million jobs reported for November. By contrast, they account for upwards of 75% of total wages and salaries paid.
Needless to say, the stagnation of the breadwinner jobs market is the reason that wage and salary income growth has been so anemic. For more than 15 years the jobs mix has been steadily deteriorating, dragging the average annual earnings down with it.
Growth in real wealth and living standards requires expansion of full-time employment and rising productivity per employee. The hard truth is that the debt-saturated US economy is not producing either of these essential ingredients of real main street prosperity.

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