With ‘Gigs’ Instead of Jobs, Workers Bear New Burdens

You could imagine a world in which more workers become independent contractors voluntarily, trading the social insurance functions of traditional employers for higher pay and greater flexibility ..

.. The unemployment rate was above 7 percent for nearly half of the period, from the end of 2008 to late 2013. Employers had the upper hand. That suggests it’s more likely that employers were driving the shift to these alternate arrangements.

.. When people working as a team need extensive experience working together, it can be tricky to contract out the work. But when there are clear, simple measurements of how successful each person is, and a company can monitor it, the employer now has flexibility.

.. “New technologies may allow some things to be shipped out and standardized and easily monitored,” Mr. Katz said. “Call center workers can be at home. Independent truck drivers can be monitored for the efficiency of their routes. Monitoring makes contracting more feasible.”

.. But the same technologies that made it possible could be making employers more interested in building a work force of nonemployees. A weak job market has probably given them more ability to make it a reality.