Study: 'Sharing Economy' Mostly Benefits Americans Who Are Already Doing Well

Its proponents have long insisted that the "sharing economy" would level the playing field, but new data suggests it's mostly benefiting Americans who are already wealthy.

A new study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute shows that more people who are among the top 20% income earners made money off the gig economy than lower-income workers did. The data also indicated that "low and moderate-income individuals were more reliant on labor platform earnings than the rest of the population," with the lowest earning workers more likely to earn sharing economy money through companies like Uber and TaskRabbit.

Lower income Americans who rely on these kinds of platforms for their primary income can be hit with additional economic burdens as a result of their employment. The study points out that:

The implications of earning a significant share of one's livelihood from online platforms and other non-standard forms of work are many. For example, such individuals may be more likely to owe taxes at tax time, since platforms and independent contract jobs typically do not withhold taxes. Platform participants' incomes may be more difficult to verify for the purposes of applying for a mortgage, auto loan or other lines of credit. They may be less likely to be receiving workplace benefits typical of standard employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave.

These comments are quantified with the assertion that sharing economy workers have more flexibility than other employees, which is a consistent staple of pro-sharing economy rhetoric. You can read the entire study at JPMorgan Chase Institute's website.

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