Small Business and the Social Safety Net

I advise several small business owners - who by definition are truly "micro-business" owners: people running businesses who earn less than $10M annually. Most artists, real estate agents, retail store owners, workshop instructors, and consultants fall in this category.

When I started The Swell last Fall it was widely assumed that one in four Americans was engaged in the freelance or gig economy (temporary, contract, or on-demand work). That number looks to be quickly approaching one in three. The disparity stems from varying definitions of gig work and freelancing. The actual number of people in this cohort could be less than 4 million or as many as 55 million. What is unmistakeable is that the numbers are growing, and that we need a "relevant and modern system of social insurance to support them." 

As this cohort grows, we need to come up with ways to provide benefits that are tied to the individual rather than to the company at which they work. We're talking about benefits such as retirement savings, workers’ compensation, life or disability insurance, sick leave, training and educational benefits, health care, and more. The 21st century economy is changing more radically than our public policy is able to keep up.

An article in Fast Company titled The American Dream is Fading for Millions of Freelancers. Portable Benefits Could Save It. by Mark R. Warner, the senior United States Senator from Virginia, acknowledges that the issues have reached Congress' attention. 

 

Lesley RobertsComment