ILR School, Aspen Institute to develop Gig Economy Data Hub

The ILR School and The Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative announced Dec. 13 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 range from less than 1 percent to more than 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 their strengths and weaknesses, will help researches and policymakers identify effective policy solutions for gig economy workers.

The partnership between the Future of Work Initiative and the ILR School aims to improve public understanding about the evolution of the gig economy by evaluating gig economy data sources. The partnership will bring together different data sets – government, private and academic – to identify overlaps and explain discrepancies. This approach will also highlight opportunities for further research. Beyond policymakers, access to the data will be valuable to journalists, researchers, students and members of the public alike.

“The composition of the American workforce is changing,” said Alastair Fitzpayne, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan effort to identify concrete ways to address the challenges American workers and businesses face due to the changing nature of work. “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.”

Louis Hyman, ILR School associate professor and director of the school’s Institute for Workplace Studies and its Future of Work research and programs, 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 seek to advance this conversation and develop solutions for the ever-changing 21st-century economy.

Mary Catt is assistant director of communications at the ILR School.

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