Monday, April 28, 2014

Bartering services is about desperation in the face of labor market failure

Kevin Roose published The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation in NY Magazine last week, in response to the Wired Story on How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other. Roose says not so fast:
[T]he sharing economy has succeeded in large part because the real economy has been struggling. A huge precondition for the sharing economy has been a depressed labor market, in which lots of people are trying to fill holes in their income by monetizing their stuff and their labor in creative ways.
He takes a look at labor's share of economic growth and provides a couple of alarming charts...

how many full-time jobs have been replaced by part-time jobs since the recession of 2008:

what's happened to real wages:

Roose concludes:
A narrative about labor-market weakness isn't as uplifting as one about strangers learning to trust enough other with the help of ride-sharing apps. But it's a necessary piece of the puzzle. Tools that help people trust in the kindness of strangers might be the thing pushing hesitant sharing-economy participants over the threshold to adoption. But what's getting them to the threshold in the first place is a damaged economy, and harmful public policy that has forced millions of people to look to odd jobs for sustenance.

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