What to Expect When Congress Examines the Gig Economy

House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot is asking lots of questions about on-demand firms like Uber and HomeAdvisor

Congress is preparing to examine the “gig economy” during a hearing Wednesday and how its draw of younger adults is affecting traditional small businesses.

The gig economy enables consumers’ on-demand access to services such as transportation, home maintenance and dating using smartphones and other digital devices. Familiar examples include popular gig services like Uber, ParkingPanda, and Airbnb. But gig economy growth has sparked a new debate on what it means to be a business or an employee.

The House Small Business Committee will explore the relationship between small businesses and the gig economy, with a specific focus on the increasing number of millennials pursuing gig economy careers.

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Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) is looking to get to the heart of how the gig economy impacts its participants and small businesses, according to an advanced copy of his opening statements provided to LifeZette.

Chabot is examining who is participating in the gig economy, why so many millennials are pursuing gig economy careers, what working in the gig economy is like, and how its growth affects small businesses. A panel of experts will field the questions as they look at what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and worker in the gig economy.

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The gig economy has prompted fierce debate because of its alleged subversion of traditional business models and employment relationships. Gig workers are not technically employees because they are contractors, which gives them more flexibility but fewer employment benefits and protections.

Seattle has been a leading city in its efforts to impose specific regulations on gig economy ventures like Uber. They have put forth laws and regulations to better control the industry and make its participants more akin to employees.  Critics have warned the approach could stifle what has made the model so successful in the first place.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 53 million individuals earn income outside of traditional jobs.

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Connor Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: Uber Eats Delivery Cyclist, CC BY 2.0, by Shopblocks; photo credit, article image: Uber Application…, CC BY 2.0, by Mark Warner)

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