6. Reinvention can’t erase history

Photo illustration of a hand scribbling over an old photo of a shoe shine boy.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Library of Congress

The gig economy isn’t new, but a well-timed rebrand after the Great Recession is responsible for people thinking it is. In fact, reliable economic data on what is broadly known as self-employment goes back about 80 years.

Why it matters: The rising popularity of the gig economy descriptor — as a catchall for any employees who are "not permanently attached" — is directly related to structural changes in the labor market creating a new way of working that wasn’t even possible before technological advances of the past decade.

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