For nearly two decades, the growth of nonemployer firms, or firms that have no employees and mostly constitute incorporated self-employed freelancers (workers in the “gig economy”), has consistently outpaced traditional payroll growth, as is visible here:
Overall, nonemployer firms have grown by 2.6 percent a year, while payroll employment has grown by only 0.8 percent annually. Nor is it just independent contractors that are proliferating amid shakier benefits arrangements. More and more workers, as it happens, are finding that their work in an increasingly “contingent” economy leaves them without the array of benefits that have historically come from traditional employment. Some of them lack a reliable income stream. Others are missing out on such standard assurances as paid leave, employer-sponsored healthcare, retirement contributions, and disability insurance. In fact, millions of wage employees in multiple large industries, such as retail or food services, face similar challenges.