What’s in Store for 2020?

A roundup of independent contractor and gig worker news and insights

We’ve curated some of the top topics circulating the web regarding independent contractors and the gig economy and what to expect in 2020. In this installment, we talk about gig economy legislation, education, finances, trends, and growing industries.

We are now in the year of AB5, but the voice of the gig worker is being heard.

We’re going to be hearing a lot about California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5)—and similar legislation in the works for other states. In 2020, more gig workers of all stripes will be coming together to explain to lawmakers how they work, why they choose the gig economy, and how it’s benefited them.

For a primer on AB5, check out this explainer from Business Insider. Gig workers and independent contractors are frustrated with the law because it places limits on how much they can work for a company without the company having to make them an employee. But many gig workers say they don’t want to be employees. That’s why they do what they do.

The new year will likely bring additional legislation, but gig workers like Javier Pagan hope lawmakers will hear them out. “It’s important for lawmakers to make sure that all ‘gig economy’ workers are being treated fairly,” he wrote in an opinion piece for The Buffalo News. “It’s just as important to recognize that this new way of working gives workers a lot of power over when and how much they work, which is a lifesaver for a lot of people like me.”

Will higher education institutions prepare students to be independent contractors?

This Harvard Business Review article from late 2019 calls for the need to prepare students for a changing picture of work. Will 2020 bring about curriculum changes in higher education? The gig economy now makes up 30–40 percent of the workforce, with independent contractor growth expected to continue, the article reports. According to a piece in Community College Daily, “Some studies predict half of U.S. workers could participate in the gig economy in the next decade, and that is creating opportunities for colleges to enhance their instruction to cover management, marketing, financing and other skills gig workers need – whether they want to be a freelance writer or set up their own housecleaning business.” And this Quartz at Work piece discusses some of the ways universities have already begun prepping students to be their own bosses.

Forget what your parents taught you about finances.

Each passing decade brings with it changes to the economy and changes to how we work. The financial advice of yesteryear also grows stale with the ever-flipping calendar. Now that we’re in 2020, it’s time for money management guidance to factor in fluctuating pay. “Gig workers need a different system to manage inconsistent income,” according to this Vice piece that explains which age-old advice on saving, budgeting, and handling finances is now outdated. Banks and credit card companies will catch onto this in 2020 and finally offer helpful info for the independent contractor. Check out this blog post from Discover as an example.

We’ll see new trends in gig work.

Gig apps have made it possible for people to outsource just about anything these days. And that outsourcing creates new types of jobs for the independent contractor or gig worker. We’ve already seen a rise in grocery and food delivery. But now the gig economy is taking food hauling a step further with gig workers organizing the groceries in a person’s fridge or pantry, according to this Vice article. The new year will likely bring even more opportunities for gig workers as startups figure out additional ways to solve people’s pain points through on-demand apps.

More industries will wholly embrace the gig economy.

Food service workers, frustrated with unpredictable shift schedules, are leaning into the gig economy to take better control of their income and their hours. And more industries will likely follow suit. Restaurant workers have traditionally been hired on as employees of an eatery. But apps are paving the way for dishwashers, servers, line cooks, and more to grab shifts as needed at establishments all over their city. The New York Times reports that “the restaurant industry is facing its worst labor shortage in decades,” so the apps are beneficial for both businesses and workers. Restaurants can staff shifts, and workers can gain experience in different roles at different places, building their skill level.