Advice for Mayor de Blasio on the New Economy
How freelancers and sharers will shape the next New York — and what the new mayor can do to help
New York City is becoming the hub of the freelance economy.
And it goes far beyond the creative class denizens of your home borough of Brooklyn, Mr. Mayor-elect. This new economy is also being driven by the independents who rent their spare room on Airbnb, sell their crafts on Etsy, or teach an online course on SkillShare.
The nature of work is changing. One in three workers is independent — freelancers, consultants, and anyone who pieces together a variety of gigs to earn a living. That’s 42 million nationwide — and more than 100,000 in New York City alone are members of Freelancers Union.
In the coming decade, these workers represent the city’s most significant economic growth opportunity — if we give them the support they need.
Obviously, the days are gone when you can expect to work 40 years at a single company. But, gone too are the days when “freelancing” meant trying to replicate that traditional 40-hour workweek through gigs.
Instead, today’s freelancers are piecing together new kinds of work to get by — a freelance graphic designer might also earn extra cash taking care of a stranger’s dog through DogVacay and work in her local babysitting coop to offset her own childcare costs. That’s the city’s new middle class.
New Yorkers are rewriting the idea of “work” to be more flexible, more passionate, and more connected to their neighbors. But local regulations haven’t kept up.
Instead of trying to crack down on New Yorkers powering these revolutionary sharing platforms, the de Blasio administration should focus on empowering freelancers to craft creative, connected lives — and provide the same support to micro-entrepreneurs that small businesses rightly expect.
If New York City doesn’t get behind this new workforce, we’ll lose them to a city that does.