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Report: NC Workers Pay Price for "Gig Economy"

The number of contingent workers in the so-called gig economy is on the rise, with the number growing faster in North Carolina than the rest of the country. Photo credit: mensatic/morguefile.com
The number of contingent workers in the so-called gig economy is on the rise, with the number growing faster in North Carolina than the rest of the country. Photo credit: mensatic/morguefile.com
October 26, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. – Roughly one in three North Carolinians is classified as a contingent worker.

The term defines part-time, independent contractors and temporary workers hired through agencies.

A new report from the North Carolina Justice Center's Workers' Rights Project finds that the number of temporary workers grew by 52 percent since 2009, a rate higher than the national average of 39 percent.

The report’s author, Clermont Ripley, says it's not likely the number will decline any time soon, since it's now part of many company's profit model.

"In all big companies that are contracting out labor and asking for bids and letting people compete, that's driving down the costs so that these smaller entities bidding have to figure out ways that they can reduce their costs to offer the lowest possible price," she explains.

According to the report, temp workers in North Carolina earned slightly more than $30,000 annually, compared with the average wage of $45,000.

Ripley says the increase in gig jobs is helpful for some people in need of flexibility in their work schedule, but many are stuck in the contingent work cycle involuntarily.

The report notes that state policymakers can encourage a shift by actions such as forbidding public contracts from using contingent workers and creating outside supports for those workers with a raise in the minimum wage.

But Ripley adds that there are some laws already in place to protect workers in the state – they just need to be enforced.

"Make sure that companies aren't choosing this kind of employment relationship just to avoid responsibility, and really to make sure that it isn't damaging the economy or workers more than it has to," he stresses.

Ripley adds that some countries in Europe make it illegal for companies to hire temporary or contract workers to perform core roles in their business.



Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC