Dec 19, 2016 05:49 AM EST

The True Health Of The Labor Market: American Workers Handling Two To Three Jobs; Moving To Unsecured Contractual Jobs

By JC Santos

The American unemployment rate is below 4.6 percent but many Americans are multiple part-time jobs or freelance assignments. Some are working two or three jobs to make ends meet, indicating a possible overstatement and lack of "connection to reality for" recent employment surveys in the United States. According to observers, the true health of the labor market does not count those who had given up employment, those working multiple unsecured contractual jobs and those who are handling two to three full time jobs.

According to The Oregonian, Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg View columnist Justin Fox said that the unemployment rate of 4.6 percent sounds pretty good on paper but "[does not] count people [who have] given up looking for jobs." He said the metric of "employment-to- population" ratio is a better way to see the labor market's health as employees "engaged in alternative work arrangements."

Fox said there has been a huge shift from secure jobs to "contingent ones" that indicate reports of a better unemployment rate may be an overstatement. He said that many men in their prime are dropping out of the labor force and are "doing work that [does not] fit the definition of a conventional full-time job."

The "gig" economy -- by way of ride-sharing app Uber allowing people or having people with some free time do some menial tasks with TaskRabbit -- would require gig economy workers to become well-versed with any kind of trade. According to Financial Times contributor Izabella Kaminska, employees working in the "gig" economy are "signed up to as many different task apps as possible to capture surge rate opportunities as best they can. She said the trouble is that the gig economy "[undercuts] seasoned service workers" and replaces them with "amateurs with no capacity to plan ahead."

Aside from Uber, most freelancers and multiple part-time workers use TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, Ouishare and Fiverr to find gigs and take advantage of surge rates for rush work. According to Thumbtack, one of its employees who only had a high school education earns about $20,000 yearly.

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