The booming on-demand economy for part- time workers

The Today Show recently did a segment on giving a dinner party entirely using apps. It was amazing. The point was that the new on-demand economy is booming. The amount of part-time work for millions of people in the U.S. is skyrocketing.

The reporter was able to have her apartment cleaned (Handy), hire a bartender (Task Rabbit), a chef and buy the food (Feastly)), order flowers (Bloom That), table settings (Table & Teaspoon), wine (Banquet), have someone come to do her hair and make-up (Be Glammed), and buy a dress (The Cut and Stitch Fix), get a massage (Zeel) all through apps on her phone. I was astounded.

20 million Americans are participating in this new on-demand economy, spending $60 billion a year. 45 million Americans are providing either the labor, the goods or both. Is it a good thing for our national economy? The unanswered question is will this part-time on demand economy solve the gap between the cost of living and low wages? Or, to the contrary, will it erode workers’ rights and jeopardize the social safety net? The work is certainly unpredictable, and there are no benefits. Certain tech leaders and labor unions in the U.S. are asking for some worker protections and security. This will not be easy to do, as people often work for many employers in the same industry. For example, if you have bartending skills, you might have registered with several party apps, and be working jobs for all of those employers. How would worker protections like minimum wage and overtime be attributed correctly? This will be an interesting set of issues to watch.

In the meantime, users and providers are enjoying this new economy of convenience and efficiency. In addition to the apps listed above with the dinner party example, here are others you might have need of. Of the following list we have successfully used only Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit, Quad Jobs and Craig’s list. We’d love you to comment at the bottom of this article and share experiences you’ve had with any of the apps listed here for the benefit of our other readers.

Uber has been a wonderful innovation in my life. It takes the stress out of traveling and needing to find a taxi at a difficult time of day. I have used it extensively and never had a bad experience.

Airbnb has made traveling around the world much easier. It has over 2 million accommodations in over 190 countries available for rent.

Thumbtack is similar to Taskrabbit. Describe the job you need done and you will receive bids. Compare the bids, read the reviews and choose your professional. They offer over 1,100 types of services from wedding officiates to voice lessons.

Home Advisor finds local pros who specialize in the type of home improvement work their customers need done. Describe your job and they will send you bids from four pros. They offer almost any home improvement task you could think of.

Next Door is a private social network for your neighborhood. Find a babysitter in the neighborhood, or a computer specialist for example. Alert your neighbors to a recent break-in, or a lost pet. They have over 111,000 neighborhoods and are rapidly growing.

Angie’s List is another task-oriented app. It offers services for almost anything you can think of, from home improvement tasks to health tasks, to automotive tasks and even baby-sitting.   It doesn’t allow any anonymous reviews, so feedback is trustworthy. is online local classifieds where jobs, housing, goods, services, romance, advice, local activities and more can be found. It receives over 50 billion page views per month, 60 million users in the U.S. alone and posts over 80 million classified ads each month.

Airtasker is a community platform for people who want to outsource tasks and find local services. Airtasker can help you find professionals to complete simple to complicated tasks. Home cleaning, handyman jobs, admin work, graphic design, photography, website building, almost anything you can think of.

WeGoLook offers custom inspections and the back up tasks required. They have over 25,000 nationwide agents ready to be dispatched by the consumer, property owner, business professional and online daters. They will inspect or verify vehicles, boats, properties, antiques and prospective dates. They will then complete any other related task like preparing reports, notarizing documents and/or shipping.  They will also run errands like delivering flowers or standing in line for the new iPhone.

If you are in or near Fairfield County, we’ve used Quad Jobs, an online job board that puts cash-strapped college students together with local families and businesses in need of hired help. They pre-vet their job candidates and the jobs range from bartending, baby sitting, furniture moving, deliveries, tutoring, temp work in offices and much more.