The New Working Class

When companies like DoorDash, Uber, and Instacart provided new avenues for people to work flexibly, many got excited. Now that it’s happened, our hopes aren’t quite as sweet… but here’s how things can still get better.

The working class has changed a lot over the last few centuries. It used to be farmers, then manufacturers, then retail and food workers. Now, it’s Lyft drivers and Instacart workers – jobs that certainly harken back to that previous age, but with a few notable exceptions.

The most notable is that, for the first time ever, the working class has some level of flexibility. Especially during and before the Industrial Revolution, most workers worked 80+ hours a week, until the day they died. The generation after invented retirement (working only until you were relatively close to dying), and the generation now involves a schedule with more leeway than most of the highest paying jobs just last generation. Of course a lot of that leeway is somewhat farcical based on how many hours you have to work as a Lyft driver to hit your wage goal, but it still is fairly impressive. 

But it’s not just the working class who’s gotten a quality-of-life raise. Think about what Lyft drivers and Instacart workers were in the 90s – private valets and personal shoppers. Just not that long ago, these services were only affordable to the rich! Now, even a Lyft driver could get their own Lyft if they wanted to. 

The source of this comes, of course, from the evolution in convenience. Or logistics, which is sort of just more specified convenience. Our ability to make things cheaper, better, and faster has a big effect on our quality of life and in an economic sense this is certainly no exception. I wonder, what will the next generation’s working class look like?

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