Economics in Brief: A New Test To See Who’s An Employee In The Gig Economy

And why children will benefit from the Social Security adjustment.

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(Photo from istockphoto.com/portfolio/xavierarnau)

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Labor Department To Test If Gig Workers Can Become Employees

The gig economy has long been the wild west of the job market, made up of an ecosystem of contractual workers who are hired by companies, but who often do not reap the benefits given to regular employees. Attempts to regulate the market have largely been left to the hands of states.

This is soon to change with a new federal regulation. The Biden administration is floating a new way of employee classification via a kind of test. The New York Times reports the new test “considers factors such as how much control workers have over how they do their jobs and how many opportunities they have to increase their earnings by doing things like offering new services.”

This will replace the current employee classification system set by Trump. Although other government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, have their own regulations set up, the announcement will likely be a blow to large companies like Uber and Lyft who have lobbied against attempts to tame the gig economy. Announced on Oct. 11, share prices from both ride-sharing companies dropped more than 10%.

Supreme Court May Rein In State Economic Regulatory Powers, Thanks To Pork

California and other similarly progressive states are more likely to have stricter standards of food production. But those regulations are not self-contained to state borders and are affecting national food production — so argues the National Pork Producers Council in the easily overlooked case NPPC v. Ross.

The NPPC argues in its filings that the Golden State is imposing its “philosophical preferences” on the entire nation and that the Supreme Court should combat “allowing a State to export its social experiments extraterritorially.”

At the center of NPCC argument is California’s Prop. 12, which enforces minimum standards for movement for gestating pigs on the consumer side. States like Arizona and Florida, as The American Prospect reports, have already passed similar legislation on the producers’ side. By banning in-state sales, opponents of Prop. 12 question which industry will come next and where will the ripples of similar regulations be felt next.

The Unexpected Beneficiaries Of Social Security Cost-Of-Living Adjustment

Inflation is spurring many negative effects in the economy, but it also triggers an increase in benefits to Social Security payment recipients. During times of inflation, the Social Security Administration adjusts payments to meet the increase of cost of living.

According to the Center of Budget Policies and Priorities, 97% of older adults ages 60-89, receive Social Security benefits. But the next largest—and perhaps unexpected—gropu to receive help via their elders? Children.

It may be because of the toll of Covid, with an estimated 140,000 U.S. children losing at least one parent. But increasingly elder family members, like grandparents, are the primary caregivers, AP reports. The adjustment could not come at more pressing time. According to the Office of Personal Management, grandparents who are also primary caregivers are 60% more likely to live in poverty.

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Marielle Argueza is Next City’s INN/Columbia Journalism School intern for Summer-Fall 2022. She’s a journalist based in New York City with more than ten years of experience. Her beats have included education, immigration, labor, criminal justice and climate. Her work in K-12 education is award-winning and she was recognized multiple times by the California News Publishers Association. She is a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School, where she was Toni Stabile Investigative Fellow. During her time earning her master’s degree, she drew from her extensive knowledge of local journalism to report stories on the city, state and national level. Her work includes a story on Harlem’s last assisted-living facility for people living with HIV/AIDS; a profile on New York State’s first Farmers Union; and a database of deaths within the Milwaukee County Jail. She is also a recipient of other fellowships and scholarships from several notable organizations within the news industry including the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN), ProPublica, and the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS).

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