Things have gone awry for the 40-hour-per-week employee pool since the dawn of the "gig" and self-employment industry. From taxi, plumbers, teachers, delivery guys, to babysitters, technological trends have made it possible for people to hire them on the go. And with the staggering advancement foreseen for 2017, it is more than likely that people may lose their jobs to robots, as some analysts suggest.
The expected job loss is attributed to companies' cost-cutting measures, with firms increasingly investing in "labor-saving, productivity-enhancing equipment."
For example, Uber, the biggest online transportation network company founded in 2009, has resulted in a 42% decrease in taxi-hailing rides in Los Angeles. In 2012, taxi-hailing rides in L.A. totaled to 8,401,922. In 2015, that total decreased to 6,025,391. That's a drop of 2,375,991 in just three years.
Taxi Commission President Eric Spiegelman says, "The drivers are taking a hit, a big hit, and it's really painful... Now that there's so much competition in the most lucrative neighborhoods, (taxi) drivers are serving areas that they (Uber and Lyft drivers) hadn't served as well."
Elance and o-Desk, now Upwork, is a site that brings together freelancers and employers for project-based contracts. This "gig" system has replaced many traditional jobs in writing, editing design, and even accounting and programming. As of the first quarter of 2016, Upwork boasts 12 million registered freelancers and employers.
But the freelancing system is not without its caveats, both for employers and freelancers. For freelancers, it is with the low pay they have to settle with. As one user says, "Bidding is open to freelancers worldwide. That means that a writer in the United States has to compete directly with writers from many developing countries and countries with low cost of living. The result? Bids are extremely low. As low as hourly rates of two dollars."
Employers are not spared as well, with freelancers running away from the project once payment is initially made. One user says, "I hired a company... to do my website design for $439.00. The preliminary design looked good and they requested funding to complete and deliver. When funding was forwarded, they disappeared, did not respond to requests for arbitration."
On a recent study, it was seen that AI-run robots make for better salespeople than humans, with an efficiency that can outpace humans from tasks ranging from simple to complex ones. As an AI company spokesperson says, "An AI automated assistant will happily engage with prospects as often and as long as is required."
Ryan Avent, author of The Wealth of Humans: Work and its Absence in the Twenty-First Century, says that more affordable technology has made it possible for companies to overlook the need of maintaining a strong workforce, and this is why more people may lose their jobs in the years to come. He adds, "Technology has allowed companies to move jobs to countries where wages and labor rules are more favorable, to automate away jobs altogether or to change the structure of markets in ways that reduce laborers' autonomy and power."