PLEDGE NOW
The Rise Of Micro-Labor

New websites putting up small jobs for bid, or micro-labor, are on the rise. Clean my compost bin. Buy my dog food. Job-hungry Americans are bidding low. Where does this go?

Micro-labor websites are taking off. (Photo illustration/WBUR)

Micro-labor websites are taking off. (Photo illustration/WBUR)

A lot of Americans need work. A lot of Americans need work done. A raft of new web sites is hooking them up around specific tasks that need doing. You want a pile of sand moved. You post a picture of that pile online.

I bid for the work. I’ll move that sand for thirty bucks. Or twenty. Or ten. Or five if I’m hungry enough. The upside: efficient connection of job and labor, and I make a buck. The downside: it’s work, but not a job. And the low bid that wins can be very low indeed.

This hour, On Point: the new era of bidding for work online. How hot it is. How low it can go.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Scott Kirsner, writes the weekly”Innovation Economy” column and blog for the Boston Globe and Boston.com.

Eric Koester, founder and chief marketing officer/chief operating officer of Zaarly, a peer-to-peer mobile start up that allows people to bid for goods and services.

Harley Shaiken, professor at U.C. Berkeley who specializes in labor and the global economy.

John Horton, staff economist at oDesk Corporation, a online global marketplace that helps people hire, manage and pay remote freelancers or teams.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal “A new crop of websites and smartphone applications are allowing people to farm out chores to a growing army of temporary personal assistants. These micro-employees are taking the division of labor to once-unthinkable extremes.”

The Boston Globe “Here’s today’s column from the Boston Globe, about sites that enable small jobs to be distributed to a global network of freelancers. I’m publishing it here in its entirety because the Globe’s website seems to be down this morning.”

ABC News “One young woman, an experienced advertising director, stands in her kitchen preparing dinner for some college students. “

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 5, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas mingles at a campaign event at Robie's Country Store, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Hooksett, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Ted Cruz, Clinton and Sanders out of Iowa. Zika panic. Syrian peace talks fall apart. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Feb 5, 2016
A portion of the cover of Ben Ratliff's new book, "Every Song Ever." (Courtesy Farar, Straus and Giroux / The Publisher)

How to choose music in an age when everything is online and always there. New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff shows the way.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 5, 2016
A portion of the cover of Ben Ratliff's new book, "Every Song Ever." (Courtesy Farar, Straus and Giroux / The Publisher)

How to choose music in an age when everything is online and always there. New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff shows the way.

 
Feb 5, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas mingles at a campaign event at Robie's Country Store, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Hooksett, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Ted Cruz, Clinton and Sanders out of Iowa. Zika panic. Syrian peace talks fall apart. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February 5, 2016
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Spread the word — we FINALLY have both a new website (in beta) and a new newsletter. Sign up, visit and see what’s happening in the On Point digital universe.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #3: Jeb Bush — Cry for Me, America!
Thursday, Feb 4, 2016

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) asked a New Hampshire audience to clap for him — and our own Jack Beatty was there to hear it.

More »
Comment