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How Being Multi-Faceted Makes the Gig Economy Work for Grace Helbig

 

Grace Helbig is a lot of things these days, which is just what today’s gig economy seems to want. Helbig came to fame with her hilarious youtube channel that now has nearly three million subscribers. Its tagline is “What a charming idiot,” but she’s no fool, and now finds herself in possession of multiple careers with the resulting multiple income streams. She’s a comedian, host, actress, and a New York Times bestselling author. Helbig recently spoke to Kai Ryssdal and Daisy Palacios of Marketplace.

Her several identities arose from fear, really, as Helbig told Marketplace. “It’s one of those things that because I think I started doing improv and started auditioning, I have this innate fear that it could all go away tomorrow, so I need to have as many pots available to start any sort of meal at any time. But I think that’s good too, because right now it’s such a time to be creative with the way you create content.”

Online platforms offered her an ideal way to put herself out there without so much exposure to painful rejection. “When the internet presented this opportunity to create whatever you wanted in the comfort of your own home and post it, that to me was the most ideal scenario possible.” It started as a fun, relatively low-impact hobby and slowly became an actual job.

Her new book Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It, is a mechanism to reach out in friendship to people who feel “crazy and alone.” Helbig reveals, “I wanted to get really serious really quickly in the book and let that go to the side and let the rest of it be really silly.” She also wants to inject some realism into the way fashion is discussed. “Usually it’s, ‘Here’s my beautiful makeup done, and here’s my hair done.’ I’m always fascinated by the moment of getting to the end result.”

Staying solvent in the gig economy can be a struggle, but with energy and a genuine interest in doing lots of things — plus a bit of luck — it can be an environment in which to thrive. And a background in improv can’t hurt.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Measuring Minority Unemployment Gets You a Very Different Number

 

At the beginning of February 2016, the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago released a devastating report on minority unemployment figures from 2005 to 2014. The Bureau of Labor Statistics may have reported an overall unemployment rate of 4.9% in January, but according to Great City’s report, that number doesn’t remotely apply to minority job-seekers.

The report finds that in New York City and Los Angeles, approximately 30% of black men 20 to 24 years old were out of work and not in school. These statistics are even worse in Chicago, where nearly half of the black men of the same age are in this position. Among Latinos, it’s 20%. For white males, it’s only 10%.

The effect of so many young men out of work isn’t just tragic for the jobless. Permanent unemployment is corrosive to their local communities as well, with the most-affected males coming from minority neighborhoods caught in a vicious cycle of despondency, poverty, violence, and health issues. And the viability of the cities within which these troubled communities are located is itself at risk as these situations continue.

The Editorial Board of the New York Times suggests that a solution for this massive unemployment existed for a while and deserves to be restored. According to the Times, the Recovery Act of 2009 enacted in response to the market crash of 2008 contained an employment subsidy that created 260,000 jobs for young people and adults. The program was widely popular with governors and employers. However, the approach fell out of favor with the Republican Congress a year later, and they declined to extend the program.

A 2013 analysis by the non-profit Economic Mobility Corporation found that program had lowered hiring costs so successfully that it rescued companies from the recession. 37% of the workers employed through the program were eventually hired by their companies.

The Times asserts that carefully targeted employment subsidies can be a useful tool for reducing the heartbreaking unemployment level among minorities in big cities where a sense of alienation becomes a powerful, destructive force. These threatened neighborhoods could become more prosperous places capable of providing a hopeful environment for their children.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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The 5 Best and 4 Worst Jobs at Walmart

As a nation, we tend to pay a lot of attention to Walmart as one of the country’s most ubiquitous employers. Now Terence Loose, writing for Philly.com, has put together a list of the five best and four worst jobs you can have at the massive retailer.

Note: Walmart has just announced they’ll be increasing their minimum wage to $10 an hour, and giving all of their U.S. employees at least a 2% pay raise. The figures below reflect salaries before these increases go into effect.

The Five Best Jobs at Walmart

  1. Store Manager: Who knew you could make $150,000-$250,000 working at Walmart? It reportedly comes with a “great benefits package” and the chance to work with a diverse array of people. On the other hand, it’s hard: You’re responsible for supervising everyone, meeting financial goals, inventory, payroll, and managing merchandise shipments.
  2. Assistant Manager: The average pay is $48,311 if you count benefits. The job entails meeting store sales and financial goals, guideline compliance, associate supervision, and customer service supervision.
  3. Shift Manager: You might have to work weird hours, but you can make a bundle, $78,000 if you count the $18,000 cash bonus and the $3,200 stock bonus, among other things. It’s great for getting training and moving up, though it comes with long hours and is tough on one’s work-life balance.
  4. Pharmacy Manager: If you’ve got a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy or PharmD and have a pharmacy license, you can expect to make an average of $160,000 a year for being in charge of a Walmart pharmacy.
  5. Order Filler: Working out of a distribution center moving product onto Walmart trucks will get you an average $43,120 yearly. You’ll also be 21% happier than other Walmart employees, according to CareerBliss (requires sign-in).

The Four Worst Jobs at Walmart

  1. Cashier: At an average $9 an hour, the physically demanding job of checking people out is no party, with high stress levels, difficult shifts, and fewer hours in slow seasons.
  2. Inventory Control Specialist: Hours tend to be long and late for the people who are responsible for inventory coming in and going out of a store, and you’d make an average of $10 an hour.
  3. Sales Associate: Sales associates are Walmart’s floor staff who earn an average of $9 an hour, doing an assortment of in-store tasks, including fielding customers’ questions.
  4. Customer Service Manager: The worst managerial position, making a mere $22,470 a year, these folks get change for cashiers, prep and audit cash registers, and handle customer complaints and concerns. They also train employees.

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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Obama Proposes Changes to the Way Unemployment Insurance Works

President Obama recently released a proposal for modernizing unemployment insurance. It strengthens support not just for the out of work, but also people who reenter the workforce with new jobs that don’t pay as much as their previous employment.

The first thing the president proposes is a fix for unemployment as we already know it. He wants all 50 states to finally provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. Currently, there are eight states that still don’t meet this requirement: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Next, in what’s likely a recognition of the growing on-demand, or gig, economy, Obama’s proposal would require states to provide unemployment benefits to some part-time workers, as well as low-wage earners.

The most novel aspect of Obama’s unemployment proposal however, is a mechanism that helps people adjust to new jobs that pay less than their old ones.  Many of the jobs added during the financial recovery don’t pay especially well, and workers on average experience a 10% pay cut when they take one of these jobs. Those leaving careers they’ve had for over 20 years wind up with an average 25% cut in pay. Experienced job seekers often choose to keep looking for work at their former pay level rather than settle for less lucrative, but available, positions.

Obama would rather see them get back into the workforce and proposes benefits that would replace half of a worker’s lost income up to $10,000 over two years. To qualify, a worker would have to have been with their prior employer for at least three years and have made less than $50,000 yearly. Obama hopes this will offer some financial stability for workers forced to change careers and begin making their way back up the ladder in a new career.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Union Membership in U.S. Unchanged in 2015

New data from the U.S. Department of Labor out Thursday show that union membership in 2015 in the U.S. was 11.1%, unchanged from 2014.

Union members were more likely to be male, work in education, protective services, training, and at libraries, according to the data. Although union membership did not necessarily increase, union members earned much more than non-union members: a median of $980 per week compared to $776 per week for non-union workers.

New York had the highest level of union members at 24.7%. South Carolina had the lowest at 2.1%. Meanwhile, political efforts to reduce union membership have taken a toll in other states.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that union membership in Wisconsin fell below the national average in 2015 for the first time. The paper attributed the decline to two laws passed by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers: one repealing collective bargaining for public workers and another making Wisconsin a right-to-work state.

Overall, the public sector has a substantially higher rate of union members at 35%, compared to 6.7% in the private sector. Union membership among private-sector workers was highest in the utilities, transportation and warehousing, education, and telecommunications industries.

Since 2005, union membership has increased just slightly. In 2005, there were nearly 13 million union members compared to 14.8 million in 2015. Overall, union membership has declined from 17.7 million in 1983, the first year the government began tracking membership.

Neal McNamara

Neal has spent a decade working as a newspaper reporter, which is one of the worst jobs in America job according to some career websites, but he actually likes it a lot.

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An Intriguing App for Finding Gigs in the Gig Economy

Forbes columnist Brian Rashid makes a great point. When someone is looking for a job, they’re caught in a time wasting, reactive form of professional growth since their skill set gets stuck on hold as they wait for a job. The emerging gig economy offers a way out of this numbing stasis by elevating freelancing to a legitimate career choice as a fluid — maybe even enjoyable — environment in which you can develop a diverse array of work skills. According to Rashid, there are currently about 53 million freelancers in America these days, and by 2020, it’s estimated that 50% of the workforce will be on-demand workers.

And how will these temporary gigs be found? One interesting idea comes from a company called Tispr, which is developing what they call a “sustainable, reliable, and safe ecosystem to instantly connect, collaborate, and work.” Their job marketplace is built around the company’s mobile iOS Tispr app that will soon also be available for Android devices.

Within the app, freelancers list whatever it is they can do as “offers.” An offer includes whether you’ll be providing a service remotely or locally (based on the app’s knowledge of your location). Tispr is currently set up for over 40 different loosely defined service categories. People who need jobs done use those categories to make requests in which they describe what they need and where they’d like it done. Tispr automatically matches requests with offers and sends freelancers notifications about opportunities, after which a bidding process between freelancer and client can begin. Tispr doesn’t take a cut or guarantee anyone’s legitimacy.

As the gig economy takes over, innovative network systems like Tispr’s are likely to become central to people careers, creating responsive frameworks within which work can get done and money can be made.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Amazon Flirts With Gray Area of Gig Economy

Over the last year, Amazon has been developing a same-day delivery system using companies such as UPS, FedEx, and the like. Since September 2015, however, they’ve been hiring on-demand drivers instead, and some of them are now suing the company to be treated more like regular employees. This is not an unexpected turn of legal events for Amazon; it’s the result of a calculated risk that some companies are taking.

Amazon’s Prime Now program promises to deliver orders within two hours. According to Bloomberg’s calculations, it’s available to 75.7 million people in 24 metropolitan areas, and Amazon is still expanding the program. The company seems not to mind making less on Prime Now orders — the real goal of the program may be to entice people to pay for a $99-per-year Amazon Prime membership, since Prime members tend to order twice as much as non-Prime customers. It also lets the company capture sales to customers who don’t want to wait for a product; sales that might otherwise go to local brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon is operating in a known legal gray area surrounding gig-economy workers since it’s not clear yet how to classify on-demand workers, and it could take years to figure it out. Meanwhile, for Amazon, deliveries get made, and any eventual penalties can be chalked up to the cost of doing business. Catherine Ruckelshaus, an attorney with the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low-wage workers, told BloombergBusiness, “When companies are caught misclassifying workers, it’s not a huge hit to their pocket book.” She also notes, “Companies are going to keep doing this until they really feel it.”

The current lawsuit is being brought in California on behalf of several hundred on-demand Amazon drivers by lawyer Beth Ross. They make an average of $11 an hour from Amazon, and by the time expenses are accounted for, Ross estimates they end up with less than the state’s $7.25 minimum hourly wage.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Conflicting New Economic Data Paints a Baffling Picture

Economists are struggling to make sense of new economic data. The two major indicators that tell them how healthy the U.S. economy is — gross domestic product and employment figures — don’t agree. At all.

Since the first of the year, the stock market has been heading downward, along with oil prices and corporate profits from massive companies like DuPont, BP, and Morgan Stanley, all of whom have announced layoffs. If the economy is measured by its current anemic 1% growth, it’s not very robust.

On the other hand, employment numbers tell a different story, with almost 300,000 new jobs created in December. Unemployment numbers are low, so the economy’s doing fine.

These two indicators don’t usually contradict each other like this, and economists haven’t reached much of a consensus so far.

Laura Rosner, senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas, doesn’t think the GDP’s as bad as it looks. She told the New York Times that it’s because we combine different aspects of the economy: the services sector and manufacturing. The services sector, which accounts for 86% of American workers, grew by more than 2.3 million people, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Manufacturing represents just 9% of workers, and it added only 13,000 jobs. Rosner’s view suggests employment is a leading indicator of a healthy economy.

Not so fast, David A. Levy, an independent economist, told the Times. “People commonly use employment as a leading indicator,” said David A. Levy, “but it’s a lagging indicator.” He thinks optimists are underestimating the impact from weakness overseas, and that the U.S is heading for a recession.

The bottom line? We’ll see.

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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