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The State of American Labor

 

Kim Moody analyses the so-called “gig economy” and sets out the way workers can organise within new structures of capital. “The current debate over just how much employment is or isn’t “precarious” misses the bigger change in US working-class life over the past three decades or more: the decline in living standards experienced by the vast majority of this class.

gig economy

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One measure of this is the fall in both hourly and weekly real wages, which despite some ups and downs remain below their 1972 level. So stagnant has been the income of the working-class majority that 30 percent of the workforce now relies on public assistance to get by.

Furthermore, the labor share of income has declined in relation to capital, whose piece of the pie climbed from 18.8 percent in 1979 to 26.2 percent in 2010…

Since the alleged acceleration of the gigariat is usually placed in the wake of the Great Recession when the number of multiple jobholders fell to 6,878,000 by 2010, the subsequent increase in these workers to 7,262,000 by 2015 appears as a trend.

The problem is that in 2007, just before the recession, there were 7,655,000 multiple jobholders, while in 1994 there were already 7,260,000.

In other words, in over twenty years the number of these workers has not grown much and their percentage of the workforce has actually fallen from an average of 6 percent in the 1990s to 4.9 percent from 2010–15.”

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