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Gig Economy Surges During Pandemic

Technological advances have caused the gig economy to skyrocket in recent years

The gig economy  might sound new, but it has been around for decades. While we associate “gig” with musicians, it also encompasses freelancers, independent contractors and consultants.

Technological advances have caused the gig economy to skyrocket in recent years. More people are able to work remotely, a trend that increased substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Startups Anonymous.

There are benefits on both sides of the paycheck. Gig workers have more flexibility in the hours they work and the jobs they accept. Businesses don’t have to provide health benefits and other perks to the freelancers.

One such gig worker is Debbie Simmons of Lansing, a retired Waverly Community Schools teacher. She formed Simmons Home Services, a limited liability company that provides services to the homebound or time bound.

“I did that after I retired so I could set my own schedule and take the jobs I wanted to on the schedule I made for myself,” Simmons explained.

She also became a Shipt shopper and enjoyed the work until Shipt created a glut of new shoppers, making it difficult to get shopping gigs.

Michael Cagney of Detroit is another gig worker, although his contract periods tend to get renewed. He used to commute to Lansing, but now is closer to his job at Creative Circle Detroit. He has worked there for 14 months. He also freelances for a Jackson credit union and a few marijuana companies.

“I chose gig work because it was actually much higher paying than comparable salary jobs in my field,” the videographer and animation artist said. “I also feel it is a much more sensible way to pay for creative work. It allows for much more freedom and, in my experience, it has led to far more creativity and higher quality work.”

Northern Michigan musician Mike Ridley’s income evaporated for more than two months because the shutdown didn’t allow for gigs.

“I applied for unemployment but because of my part-time job as an elected official for Tuscarora Township, I was ineligible because I made too much money,” he said. “Music made up more than half my income, but we just dipped into savings and somehow got by.”

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