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The Sharing Economy is Growing, Creating 'Invisible Workers'

Rodrigo Mejia

The "sharing economy" is seemingly spreading, and small businesses built to offer rent-able products and services are springing up wherever it goes. But somewhere below the small business label are "hundreds of thousands" of people on Etsy and Sidecar engaged in the sharing economy, absent of traditional business framework, and creating an invisible economy that is terribly tough to track. Emily Badger, staff writer at The Atlantic Cities, writes on the rise of these "micro-entrepreneurs."

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  • Tori Wilder

    Typical of government and banks to be threatened by the inability to track and syphon off of the situation, but isn't "sharing" simply another form of trade? This "new" economy doesn't necessarily feed the ever consuming trifecta of government, big banks and insurance but does that mean we should distrust it or embrace it?

    I'll put my faith in human beings, and hope that the idea that people will open their homes, offer a ride, or knit a baby sweater for someone with less time or skill is one that has merit and value. Sharing anything seems like ground level common sense in a world of limited resources -- perhaps the "real" value lies in the intangible gift of the experience which includes more than just cash on the barrel. It's already clear that the entire idea is beginning to scare the crap out of every Institution that cannot figure out how to cash in on the concept. Renting and sharing may make additional purchases unnecessary, but in this day and age careful management of goods and resources seems appropriate. The real question will be whether we can buck the fear-mongering and see what happens.

  • Carolyn Sams

    Fascinating, especially in this process of figuring out GDP/employment numbers, etc. I'm surrounded by a lot of entrepreneurial friends who are technically unemployed, but this quote really rings true for them: "'Google comes, hundreds of tech jobs are created, and there’s a lot of hoopla about these things,” [NY professor Arun Sundararajan] says. “Meanwhile, Etsy is quietly creating massive amounts of employment, and they’re not counted as jobs.'”

    • Rodrigo Mejia

      I think it's becoming common for any one of us to be a matter of a few degrees from someone selling or sharing a part of their talent. It's so engrossing at this point. most young adults begin with the idea of starting something of their own or making ends by their own means. It's amazing, but, as you said, it doesn't get counted (or can't be measured yet).
      At some point, all these workers at the edges will move to the center and we'll get a better accounting of where this is all heading. Hopefully, that means that more people will put their faith in agencies that aren't just Google, giving points where points are due.