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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. “

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  • Frank

    I think this is a very creative solution to several different issues in today’s society, but it seems like there are a lot of inefficiencies in a system where the jobs are for such a small task. I definitely think it is a positive for our economy, but isn’t the greatest asset we have. I think ideas like time banking have a bit more to contribute than this. Looking forward to listening to the conversation though.

    • GradyLeeHoward

      I thought all that was being transacted on Craigslist.
      It was free, so why is another site needed?

      Timedollars (Edgar Cahn’s labor bank idea) does about the same thing using no money. You can save up hours you give and get assistance from other members.

      In most large cities you will find illegal alien men congregating for day labor. They don’t need no stinkin’ Iphones.

      Are you interested in having a complete stranger scratch your back? I know someone…

      • margbi

        Isn’t this barter? 

  • Anonymous

    The danger in participating in microlabor work such as Mechanical Turk is that you are the means to an unknown end and you could be unwittingly assisting some endeavor with which you would normally object to on moral or political grounds and would not want to be a part of its fulfillment.

  • Lin

    I’ve used the site Fiverr a bunch of times for work–$5 for 20 minutes of audio transcribed. Each result has been very well done, and has saved me a ton of time. But I do wonder why/how people do this service for so cheap?

    • answer

      They have no choice. Their good job has been shipped out of the country where someone will do their work for 1/5 the cost. Even hi-tech jobs. I know, i trained off-shore people and then got laid off. As time goes on the more people we have working cheap and the economy races to the bottom, you may be doing what the are doing. Sharpen your cleaning skills and learn to live without insurance.

      • Lin

         answer, I sadly know what you say is all too true.

  • Anonymous

    The redistribution of wealth to the master class leaves less and less expendable income to go around. Money is more precious to those who have less of it. Net result is people willing to work for less and people looking to maximize the return on their dollar.

    Can any member of the GOP argue that this is a good sign for our future?

    • notafeminista

      The Left just traded one company store (plantation owner?)  for another.

      • Anonymous

        I have no idea where you get the idea that this has anything to do with left wing politics. Clinton did not put the economy into the ditch. This is the result of Nafta, Reagan’s Free Trade mantra, the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, and Bush’s Laissez-faire let Wall Street Know best policies. Both our parties conspired but the GOP who has spearheaded all of these initiatives to gut American manufacturing might and Bush… well the most incompetent president to ever preside will go down in infamy.

        • notafeminista

          Apparently I’m too obscure for you, hence the explanation.

          Plantation owners provided everything for the slaves – clothing,food, shelter etc albeit in a quality that was less than their own.  Everything contributing to the existence and sustenance of the slave came from the slave owner – and in return the slave was expected to work on the planation and if he refused to do so, was punished as a consequence.

          Fast forward to today – school lunch programs, education programs, SNAP programs, public housing,  and so on…everything needed to exist and sustain in the United States can be obtained from the government. (plantation owner) – albeit in a quality less than their own – in return Americans are expected to contribute to the sustenance of others and if refuse to do so, are punished as a consequence.

          The truly laughable thing about all of this is the Left’s condemnation of the plantation owner and their celebration of government.

          By the way MadMark if SCOTUS doesn’t throw out PPACA in its entirety, the same people you just condemned for driving this country into the ditch?  They will be in charge of your health care.   Brilliant idea…just brilliant.

          • Anonymous

            Wow, this comment is so wrong and misguided on so many levels.
            The level of conceit you have for your fellow human being is quite amazing.

          • notafeminista

            Ok…explain it to me then.  In specific terms.

  • Gregg

    I think it’s fine, one person want’s something done and another wants to do something. There’s no fuss about minimum wage, OSHA, sexual harassment, drug tests, diversity or government compliance. What’s not to like?

    • Anonymous

      No fuss about any livable wage or safety standards.

    • Victor Vito

      “There’s no fuss about minimum wage, OSHA, sexual harassment, drug tests, diversity or government compliance.”

      Can you imagine the Utopia we’d live in if none of these things existed?  I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

      • Anonymous

        Yes I can. We already lived it in the 19th century.
        I’m not against small jobs such as fixing a screen door or walking dogs, and yard work, but the very idea of some kind of low ball economy where by people compete for the lowest bidder to get their lawn mowed is how it is now.

        When you want to hire an electrician you call a few to get a price. I try to work on recommendations and would never hire anyone without a license.
        That’s common sense but there is a case where this kind of low balling can hurt very established small businesses.  The floor refinishing busniess is one such area where there is a lot of this going on.

        Working for the lowest common-denominator hurts everyone, and there is point where this gets real silly. After all rent, food, utility bills are not going to be going down to accommodate this kind economic model.

      • One Percenter

        I know. I feel so gleeful. Soon maybe we’ll finally be able to actually, really own people again!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        SO DO  those that use and abuse!!?

    • Anonymous

      This characterizes a 3rd world economy and you have no problem with that?

      • notafeminista

        A free exchange between two parties.  Just makes you itch all over doesn’t it.

        • Anonymous

          Try to at least parse issues above the level of one dimension.

          You’re complete ignorance of labor history in this nation and how absurd your comment is this context is amazing. There is no such thing as free exchange when one is the position of power.

          • notafeminista

            I don’t know why people keep insisting that potential employees have no power.   Unfortunate really.

          • Anonymous

            Most don’t, in fact I don’t.
            In the state of Massachusetts an employer can fire you for any reason, like the color of your socks. Unless you are in a union. For the record, I have mixed feelings about unions, but in this area you are screwed in this matter.

            I know of a chap who was let go where I work now. Worked there for over ten years, every year he had great reviews. They fired him and said he was not doing his job well.
            They way they fired him means he cannot collect unemployment benefits. This is becoming a very common occurrence in corporate America. It’s slimy and disgusting. 

            What power does an employee have? Litigation?
            Not many people have the money to hire a labor lawyer and most mid size and larger firms or companies will have deep enough pockets to kill you with paper work, and that’s before you even see the inside of a courtroom.

            You seem woefully ignorant of what’s going on in this country. It really is amazing to read your comments. I often wonder how someone whom seems to be smart can be so blinded by ideology.

          • notafeminista

            You can be fired for the color of your socks it’s true.  However you can also walk away whenever it suits.  THATS the power employees have…or if you are a potential employee  (meaning you are in the hiring process) you can always decide not to take the job.

            It is a big, open world out there and almost all things are open to almost all people.  Yet the Left continues ad nauseum to claim “we can’t”.  It’s depressing.

          • Anonymous

            This is not about right or left, but you seem to think it is. You are woefully ignorant of labor in this country and if it was so easy for people to find work then why is it that 25 million can’t? Why is that that for  every job listed there are on average, depending where you live of course, 3 to 5 people who want the same job which means that unemployment is still a problem. Your  idea about anyone walking away from a job and finding another one is not backed up by reality.

          • notafeminista
          • Anonymous

            And you are a vicious Liar, or you are stupid, delusional or just evil.

            Back in the 90s when the available software job openings numbered ran for 5 pages on Monster I might have agreed, if you were a programmer. Even then if you were not highly skilled you were screwed. Now that has changed even for Software Developers.

            Here you are cheer leading this degradation and exploitation.

             

          • notafeminista

            I live in a town of 120k.  I know personally right now (all anecdotal of course) of 12 jobs starting at double the minimum wage that are going unfilled for want of applicants.  The local newspaper has 3 pages of job ads. 

          • Terry Tree Tree

            You’re saying there is a Billion jobs for each applicant to choose from? 
               STARVE for ten years, then tell me you can turn down ANY job you don’t like the interviewer’s tie color?

        • Victor Vito

          Are you talking about work or sex?

          • notafeminista

            Does it matter? 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      YOU’LL do gigs for $3.00 per hour, or $10.00 per gig, for the next ten years?  With NO benefits, taxes paid, liability coverage? 
         SHOW US HOW WELL IT WORKS!

  • Anonymous

    This is the labor equivalent of pink slime. 

  • Victor Vito

    I think this is the modernization of the back market/underground economy that has always existed.  To me it is value neutral.

  • Sam

    How about fiverr.com?
    And it’s not just Americans who are bidding low, when the competition is from overseas pushing prices even lower, how can we compete?

  • Sam

    Shortly those kinds of jobs will be done by robots.
    Maybe not in our lifetime, but definitely in the (near) future.

    And then people will be screaming “Robots are taking our jobs!” Instead of “Immigrants and poor people are taking our jobs!”
    :)

    • Anonymous

      Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

    • Brett

      Then, when we finally elect a robot president, the air will be filled with anti-robot sentiment all over again! 

      • Brett

        There’s a Mitt Romney joke in there somewhere!

  • Steve

    When an increasing number of labor/employer transactions occur between individuals, how will the government efficiently collect taxes?

    Is micro-finace actually a good thing if you invision the collapse of governments?

    Who will be the first to work as security on the Koch estate in exchange for generational/lifetime fealthy?

    • Robert Anson Wilson

      I think you will enjoy “Julian Comstock”, a novel in which there’s a stirring (silent) movie about how all the city refugees were _eager_ to pledge fealty to the kindly land-owners after the oil ran oit….

  • Reem Y

    HelpAroundTown.com was created specifically to generate work in the great recession. The problem we solve is how to give new entrants into the labor force (youths) a chance to prove their worth, when employers have the luxury of hiring only people with experience.
    We do that by offering free job posts, free profiles, free ratings (by both parties), free notifications of new jobs, and hyperlocal searches (as close as 1 mile from your address). We do NOT take a cut of the jobs. We also have a Bulletin Board where people can advertise their services (and link to their profiles and ratings), priced to appeal to all the DBAs and home-based businesses out there. We are completely community-based. The idea is that ratings and feedback by a known neighbor would give you confidence in hiring an unknown person.We are an on-ramp to the labor market for youths and anyone who has been out of the workforce for a while (stay at home moms, retirees).
    We also specifically remind our employers of the $8/hr minimum wage in MA and link to MA employment regulation.
    We launched in Lexington in 2011, but the site is usable now, everywhere in the US and Canada.
    It was designed as a way to help people earn money and build a reputation, and that is what it has been accomplishing.
    http://www.helparoundtown.com

  • Anonymous

    A racing bid to the bottom for a job that could break your back so that you could food on your table…. is this the internet version of the Hunger Games?

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    Now that the  ”World is Flat”  we’re learning the hard way that there are legions of ready to tap service providers around the world. In most things they know as much, and work much harder for much less.  
    In order to prosper going forward – and perhaps even maintain social order, we’ll need to replace our sense of entitlement  with a smart and innovative realignment of the work ethic.

    Necessary in this scenario is our need for a fully functioning government at all levels commensurate with an enlightened sense of national purpose serving out even-handed justice and equal opportunity for everyone.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      TOTAL SARCASM?  I hope?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Prices will become more rational, or this will go away quickly.

    • notafeminista

      Not to mention, if no one shows up to apply for and/or work at the job specified..it will go away quickly as well.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         I see one obvious problem here–asking for someone to write a 1,000 word essay?  Can anyone say plagiarism?  I’ve been grading essays for a long time, and I can tell students that they won’t get a passing paper for $2.

        • notafeminista

          Ha!  Good point.  My profs always made us submit to plagiarism websites.

    • Drew You Too

      Prices on ALL goods will continue to increase as will the prevalence of this type of lowest bidder servitude. A barter system would be great, unfortunately that is not what this is. This is a result of desperation and nothing more in my opinion.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        EXPLOITING desperation?

  • lulu

    Can’t help but be reminded of those terrible scenes in The Grapes of Wrath — starving Okies in horrible conditions with no choice but to accept pennies for work that months earlier might have earned them dollars, all because desperation has driven them to it, and because there is always someone behind them willing to do it cheaper.

    The points made above about taxes and unsafe working conditions are exactly right.

    • notafeminista

      No one has to work in “unsafe working conditions” if they don’t want to.

      • Drew You Too

        No one has to eat if they don’t want to.

      • lulu

         You’re joking, right?  Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn’t work under just about any condition to feed your kids?

        • notafeminista

          Yup.  An integral part of being a parent is being a good example to the kids.

          • lulu

             So, wait.  I’m trying to figure this out.  If I read your other comments right, you wouldn’t take government assistance if you had hit hard times, and you wouldn’t work under unsafe conditions.  Let’s pretend that you’ve got two kids and you’re not having any luck in the job market.  How do you propose to feed them?  Or is hunger part of setting a good example?

          • notafeminista

            How am I  not having any luck in the job market?  Supposedly all those “undocumented residents” are doing jobs Americans aren’t willing to do.  I’ve cleaned toilets and I’m not ashamed to say I would again.  No inherent danger in cleaning bathrooms.   

          • Anonymous

            Why are you taking jobs away from Newt’s schoolchildren?

          • notafeminista

            Why don’t you want Newt’s schoolchildren to learn the value of a dollar?

          • Steve

            We still have the right to arm ourselves.  If you do not get justice – take it.

      • Patrik

        That is the sort of indifference to others who are struggling to survive that irks me and it’s the identity of the Republican Party.

        • notafeminista

          That is the sort of emotional manipulation and exploitation of peoples’ circumstance in order to take others’ property by coercion that is the identity of the Left.  It irks me.

          • Anonymous

            Entitlement is fine when you’re the entitled I guess. 

            Anything that Irks you is GOOD. Pity we can’t do more.

          • notafeminista

            I’m not entitled to, nor do I ask for anything, other than to leave me be.  The Left seems wholly incapable of that.

      • GMG

        That’s true.  You don’t really have to breathe either.  You can just kill yourself and not have to do any of these things.  You’re concept of “want to” is broad to the point of absurdity.

        • notafeminista

          Given the Left’s penchant for abortion and deciding at what age medical treatments and procedures should just be stopped because well…we know the person is too old…your comment is right in stept with the party line.

          To paraphrase a friend’s working definition of death: “Inertia to the roots of one’s teeth. The foundation of egalitarianism for in death are we all truly equal.” ~ strannikov

  • Mike in PA

    How does the site earn a profit?

    • Patrik

      the ads on the left hand side of your window

  • troll doll

    check out my site bidslaves.com

  • Patrik

    This is something teens/college students would use to save up and go on road trips for spring break.  This is not/should not be a solution to an adult with more responsibilities, debt and a family to feed.  This is dangerous because some adults will grow into this and abandon their search for long-term employment, whatever that means at this point.

    • notafeminista

      Endless unemployment funding has already seen to that.

      • Patrik

        There are limits to unemployment assistance and cutoff points.  Any population will try to game a noble and humane system.

        • notafeminista

          I guess I’m not sure how compensating people for doing nothing is noble or humane.

          • Patrik

            You may be able to live with watching people die of hunger on the street because they can’t find income fast enough but I’m not.

          • notafeminista

            You may be able to watch people refuse to look for work because the government check is coming, but I’m not.

          • Guest

            People pay for their unemployment insurance as part of the tax on their pay checks. It’s no free lunch. Workers have paid for it. There’s a downturn in the industry, they’ve got unemployment benefits until they can find work again.

          • notafeminista

            But not forever.

          • Brett

            And Obama has said that he doesn’t mind if people stay on the government dole from cradle to grave and for generation after generation!! …Well, not really, but I’m sure you wouldn’t mind any such hyperbole that bolsters your one-trick narrative, huh?

          • notafeminista

            When in Rome and so on..

          • Anonymous

            Unemployment benefits are fairly short-term unless the WHOLE ECONOMY is in recession when jobs are just NOT available.

            This applies to the current situation, when there are FOUR or more persons seeking jobs for EACH available job.

          • notafeminista

            Funny, apparently there are a significant number of jobs that Americans are unwilling to do so “undocumented workers” do them.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/us/farmers-strain-to-hire-american-workers-in-place-of-migrant-labor.html

            http://www.extremeskins.com/showthread.php?323519-The-Detroit-News-Landscapers-find-workers-choosing-jobless-pay

            How come people can’t find work?

          • Anonymous

            Those jobs are typically really strenuous and do NOT pay enough for the unemployed person to meet his obligations.

            And there are NOT enough of these to make a dent in the total number of unemployed.

          • Anonymous

            Unemployment compensation is the social bargain between employer and employee that allows employers the freedom to layoff workers in company downturns without having to pay employees more during good times so they can build a “rainy-day fund.” And by not “requiring” each employee to do that, it helps those families who have a head who doesn’t do that (thus children don’t starve or freeze when a parent acts irresponsibly). This is a benefit for society, possibly more important even than the benefit for the laid-off worker.

            But then those that think society is a wimp benefit cannot see this until it directly affects them.

          • notafeminista

            And it encourages employees not to build their own “rainy day fund” because they know they will be compensated regardless.

          • Anonymous

            It is only in this type of financial crisis, which was caused by the greed and arrogance of the wealthy (“best and brightest”) that the extension of unemployment insurance payments is needed.

            The extended payments is one of the most productive ways to get the economy into recovery which will benefit ALL of us, not just those who lost their jobs for NO FAULT OF THEIRS!

            By your theory, a person who owns a house next to a foreclosed house and has to move for a job and suffers the loss of half the value of his house when he sells it is “just out of luck” when that foreclosure was caused by the neighbor losing his job?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Do they issue forms to the IRS each year and to the freelancers?

  • Anonymous

    Foxconn has better benefits and pays more.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There are things I’d like to do that depend on a kind of networking I can’t easily do in the time available, but which should be enabled by the net.  I see startups locally that try to bring in funding and provide publicity if needed, but not so much about finding collaborators.

  • Ayn Marx 666

    The good thing about it is that it could allow us to work less and less at jobs—as opposed to things we like to do—as more and more work is usually done by machines and organisms…a transitional mechanism as we move away from the horror of wage-slavery to the first real human civilisation, one not dependent on slavery or involuntary (in fact, if not in law, or the minds of the wealthy) servitude.

    The bad thing is that so many of our rich and powerful just love seeing the rest of us need to beg them for work we don’t want that they’ll keep the current system going long after it were necessary—and for the first time, they won’t have to worry about their guards as they have traditionally had to do, as they’ll be automated.

  • William

    Great information. Tks Tom!

  • Michiganjf

    So is the fact that some people will do these odd jobs for absurdly low fees PROOF that Republicans are right and the minimum wage should be scrapped in the U.S.?

    … should we just let the middle class disappear, or at least severely shrink, and not worry about it?

    • Zing

      we could start there

  • Kelly

    I work as much as possible doing such jobs – my particular specialty is testing new brand names. How do I feel, what connotations possible new product names elicit, etc. It pays okay for the difficulty of the task and I get paid through PayPal. Easy money.

  • http://mycontrapposto.tumblr.com/ Kristy

    social capital+labor capital=monetary capital

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    People who participate in this are driving down the value of labor if the sites succeed.  This is piecework.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Basically, freelancers tend to have a higher tax burden, between the FICA tax, and the tendency of the “win-win” contingency in Congress to decide that the more you make, the more they take from your pocket.  ”Affordable” means that up to about $45,000, every $1,000 you make reduces your subsidy in (currently) “affordable” housing and in an almost identical formula, in Obamacare, up to about $45,000, every $1,000 reduces your subsidy in health insurance.
        So:  unless you choose to pay the $95 penalty for not having health insurance, and unless you manage to find actually cheap housing, it’s not a great idea to earn much money.  Either you earn a LOT of money, or you try to minimize it.  That’s kind of the freelance perspective, varying state by state, and according to number of dependents, for instance (in which case you might want a “real job” (with benefits).  But “consultants” want to charge, say, $100 an hour, but other independent contractors are trying to stay low.
        The government is currently organized to favor those “employed” by companies big enough (over 50 employees?) to take advantage of all the benefits corporations have negotiated for.  
        Otherwise, you might as well be in the wild west.  Be prepared for a rough ride (or just hide from the IRS).

  • Judy

    I had been self-employed for most of the last 17 years, and closed my business at the end of 2010. 
    I had 13 years of corporate work experience prior to my self-employment in different industries.   I have been looking for work for nearly two years, with no success.  I thought some of these sites, including Guru.com might be a good way to earn some money and have some flexibility with my time while my job search continued.  After going through the extensive work to sign up on some of these sites, I was horrified to see the extremely low level of pay for most of the tasks.  And, as a new person on a site, with no experience, you will not have much chance of getting any jobs without unrealistically low bids.

  • Alex

    I’m concerned about the efficiency proposition. With such low potential profits for the task taker, aren’t the transaction costs too great to pan out? Do some task takers use economies of scale to their advantage?

  • Karen

    Are any of these sites offering benefits if you work through them for a certain # of hours?  A sort of virtual company?

    • William

       You are not technically working through them. They act as a facilitator, similar to eBay.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Of course NOT!!

  • Lee

    How do you unionize such labor

  • Reem Y

    HelpAroundTown.com is not a low-bid site. The employer posts a job and sets the price, and workers apply. The buyer decides based on qualifications and availability.

  • Johanna

    I wonder if the appropriate taxes are being paid by employer and employee.  Also, it seems like a way for people to take advantage of a bad economy by paying people who are desperate for work, a wage that is criminally low.  I worked for an employer who used this kind of “so called” contracted  labor to get out of paying healthcare and social security taxes.

  • Brett

    Although this would more be considered bartering than what is described above, when I first started giving music lessons, people in my community would come up to me and offer to provide me with some kind of service or would offer to complete some “handy man” type work in exchange for lessons. As a rule, I would flatly turn them down. Most of what they would offer, I didn’t need; and, in trying to figure out equitable compensation, I was left thinking that there weren’t equal values placed on the two sides, i.e., it was difficult to determine how much work should be rendered for a half-hour lesson, and so on. 

    That said, I sometimes lend the services of my landscape company in exchange for someone else’s area of expertise. It is rare I do this, and I have to say that these sorts of transactions are no real solution to today’s unemployment problems. 

  • William

    As an independent technical writing consultant, I’ve found these sites to be a joke. As a professional working in the Boston area, rates for this sort of work are around $50-80  an hour. Using oDesk or Freelancer.com and the like, I’m competing against people bidding $5 an hour for documentation work.

    • Anonymous

      I am an independent technical consultant as well. I absolutely HATE a customer trying squeeze over $10 or $50usually I told the get the F* off.

    • notafeminista

      Do you know or are you able to determine if the $5 bidders do the same quality of work as you?

      • William

         I would take the bet that they do not, but when you’re dealing with a difference of an order of magnitude, it’s not like the poster is going to bother to find out the difference.

        • notafeminista

          But this is technical consulting.  If enough of the $5 bidders get it wrong, people will stop hiring them, no?  Get what you pay for etc?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Hopefully, they go out of business, for being so cheap and stupid?

  • John in Vermont

    Zig Ziglar always said that only the commissioned sales person knew what his or her labor was really worked – until micro labor came along to test just how lowly we regard ourselves.

    • John in Vermont

       Sorry – that should say “what his or her laor was really worth.”

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    I post for gigs when I need a major task done I can’t do myself, like a roof, but specify that I want someone licensed and insured, and get answered.

    I’ve also answered posts for gigs and make it my business to know what they expect, what my responsibilities are, what theirs are, what will happen if something goes wrong on either end, etc. Sames lots of time, hassle, and money.

  • Tom

    The issue of you being responsible for an uninsured worker on your property in your employment can not be ignored. When you hire a contractor thru conventional means you are presented with their insurance info so that you know your protected.

  • Daniel

    This labor model, which is a foregone conclusion and reality of the free agent nation, is another reason why Obamacare (good) is an important feature of our future economy. 

  • Angela

    Serfs is right – even as the economy recovers, albeit slowly, many have
    conditioned themselves to be extreme bargain hunters, and will never pay a reasonable
    price for work well done.  As a writing
    freelancer, it is too frustrating to put time and effort into a project when I will not be fairly compensated….

  • carl christian

    An absolutely wonderful idea — but only in a more perfect world than the one in which we are currently living. I’ll be ready for this only when our morals and ethics are uniformly in line with social justice principles that provide each and every person with enough food, water, health care, educational opportunities, shelter, savings for a rainy day, a reserve of humor, some common sense, and just plain old good luck.

    I guess it may be a while…

    • notafeminista

      Key word being “uniformly”.   Hard to make individuals uniform – although history has tried.

      • Brett

        So, you advocate a society where morals and ethics are variable…hmmm…okay, then. 

        • notafeminista

          Define social justice and we’ll talk.

  • Eastorchard

    This is the ultimate libertarian economy. No government oversight. No health care. No insurance. Just the tyrrany of the marketplace.

    • Steve

      People are ultimately good, fair, and  even-handed.
      There is no need for governments, only the invisible hand of the market is required.

      • Michiganjf

        Yes, Steve, “people are ultimately good, fair, and  even-handed…”

         That’s why among all those responsible for wreaking havoc upon the American economy, none of the ”good, fair” people on Wall Street have been prosecuted, despite outright bragging about how they duped so many suckers to make billions for themselves and their buddies.

        Yep, people have PROVEN how “even-handed” they are!

        BTW, how much does fraud cost America?
        … in health care alone, it’s estimated over 100 billion a year!

        Yep, “people are ultimately good alright!!!!”

        • Steve

          I thought I could not make my comment anymore sarcasic…the drift right in this country is scary

          • Brett

            I got it, Steve!

          • Anonymous

            Sarcasm is hard to do on a forum.
            Point taken, and I agree. It’s scary and they are off the rails in the nutcase category.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah that worked out well for the slave owners, not so well for the slaves. 

      • Bob Parker

        People may be ultimately good, but corporations are not. Corporations have a legal/fiduciary responsibility to only focus on profit for owners.

      • Jimbo

        Thanks for the laugh, Steve!

      • Anonymous

        I did read down fast to check for the sarcasm caveat. Yes things are this scary. 

  • Brett

    I wonder how the Labor Department views these jobs? Someone, I believe it was Greg Camp, characterized these jobs as “piece work” and, from a labor standards perspective, I would agree.  

  • Angela

    Yikes, what’s up w/ the formatting here…?

    • Anonymous

      Perhaps DISQUS hires from these sites. 

  • Arlene

    I would like to hire someone to clean out my gutters. What happens if the worker gets hurt? Someone asked that question, but your guest did not answer it. This is important for us to know.

    • Sam

      Wouldn’t they be able to sue you and/or your home insurance?

      • Steve

        This is why one hires people without access to the legal system

    • Brett

      You raise an interesting point. I will never hire someone to do some skilled work around my house who isn’t licensed, bonded, and doesn’t carry insurance. 

    • Anonymous

      You get sued. If the person was not a professional and did not have license or insurance themselves you could end up paying this person hospital bills. From what I understand about most home insurance policies if you knowingly hire someone who is not licensed they could deny your claim. These days I would be very, very careful when it comes to home owners insurance.
      If it was me, I would have them sign a contract that was very clear about liability and risk, and I would make sure it was legal in your state. Or I would hire a company that was in the up and up, pay the extra freight for peace of mind. If shit happens you could end up losing a lot.

  • Dmasters458

    I think this is awful.  I don’t want to live in a place where everything is done by the lowest bidder!  Am I the only one that thinks that is crazy? The caller from Savannah, Georgia should be arrested for tax evasion for chicken-hawking people who are eating at a soup kitchen.  It is disgusting.

    • Tncanoeguy

       It does seem like a way for companies to further outsource labor and not pay benefits. 

  • nana-lou

    A willing  buyer…a willing seller-exactly how to place a value on something. You may not like it but that’s reality.  This is true capitalism at work-and who are we to demonize real work done by someone who wants to do it for someone who wants it done! I love it!

  • Anonymous

    I’m an artist and poet. Publish my own books. I use these services a lot. I’ve used inexpensive contractors in India to high priced in the US. I’ve had a wide variety of experiences from very bad to very very good.

    I’d say that low-priced contractors who are highly skilled, organized, disciplined get very busy very fast. And raise their rates. There are contractors in places like Romania and India who charge $3 an hour and those who charge $30 an hour. The bargain is often the $30 an hour contractor. For the dollar, they get a lot more done.

    Just my experience.

  • Ellen Dibble

    My community is tending to self-sufficiency.  ”Buy local.”  Grow as much food here as possible.  Etc., etc.  In terms of the gutter-clearing and so on, if there is not a friend, or a son-in-law, for instance, you can call the senior center, and if you’re over 60, the senior has a pool of high school students eager to help out with that sort of thing.  Lawn mowing, etc., the kind of things seniors might have done for themselves up until certain joints get too achy.  
         It seems a kind of outsourcing to try to find helpers online, when a teenager across town might be able to do the work.

    • notafeminista

      You might find the teenager across town online.

      • Anonymous

        But the senior center probably has the insurance problem covered.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41902711 Juan Herrera

    How would you add the experiences obtained from this to your resume in order to sell yourself when trying to obtain a mainstream job?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cyndi-Armstrong/704124574 Cyndi Armstrong

    The little jobs I think are ridiculous to pay someone to do (go out, make some friends, buy some pizza and beer and ask them to help you hang pictures or fix your toilet seat for crying out loud!), however, the bigger jobs makes sense.  However, if someone is hiring people for jobs they may want to make sure they document everything they do very carefully because the state and feds may come calling for taxes.  The gov’t inclines towards the person you have hired as being an employee vs a contractor.  One time jobs? No big deal, but if they are hiring the same person over and over again?  Be very careful!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Tom was talking about FICA taxes applying if someone earns $30,000 or $40,000 a year.  Or maybe I misheard.  On my tax forms, the FICA taxes come AFTER you’ve done all the deductions, which mean you can’t deduct them from anything.  If you earn $15,000, you own them 15.3% or close to that, whatever it is now, and that is AFTER all the deductions, or in spite of them.  I don’t think there’s any minimum.  If you earn $1,000, you owe the 15.3%.  Last year I found that there was an adjustment for part of the cost of health insurance, but I think that’s new, and it’s not the whole thing.  If I pay $10,000 in health insurance, I don’t expect to deduct $10,000 from FICA.

  • Tom

    I’m more left wing than most people, but in the long run, if you want quality work, you will pay for it. The difference between looking through classifieds to hire someone, and you needed to ask for references, is that now you will see a star rating. Eventually the quality people will have 5 stars and cost more.

    • Anonymous

      I used Angie’s List to find a plumber for a bathroom renovation. I called a few and ended up hiring the one with the best rating. The guy was awful, he ripped me off for $2000 and then threatened to sue me if I took him to court. Angie’s List was useless in this problem as they take money from these guys. Mind you at the same time I found an electrician who I still use today. So you never know, but the ratings thing in my view is not always the best barometer for this.

  • http://mycontrapposto.tumblr.com/ dis

    actually this makes sense in a society with a increasingly gaping middle.

    • William

      Nope. This is helping to create the gape.

  • Tom

    …and the point is, that child labor etc., and unsafe work environments is illegal.
    However,he US uses people on farms and construction on less than minimum wage all the time and these jobs have the highest accident rates etc.
    We live in a one world family, and would, in the end, be better off with unions and co-operatives.

    • Tom

       ”are”

  • JepArch

    I’ve found that this kind of casual labor relationship is terrible for construction – you see less knowledge of best practices, codes, and skills than the work coming in from an established construction firm with a good foreman or lead carpenter.  This leads to shoddy work, and no recourse after the fact for cracks, settlement or code violations, things that sometimes take a while to uncover.  You get what you pay for. 

    • Anonymous

      I agree, anyone that hires casual labor and is building a larger project will end up spending more as shoddy work will have to be redone.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        At least the final customer will PAY MORE, as they are stuck with a shoddy building, code violations, and ‘contractors’ that are re-named, or re-located!

  • Erica

    Micro labor is truly tragic. When people lose a fair wage they lose their power. Working American’s have lost the satisfaction of working a 40 hour week and having something to show for it and be proud of. Their money was earned in a fair and honest way. With these kinds of internet labor sites it belittles workers and their integrity. It sets the mentality of ” you should be happy you have a job and are working.” It just devalues the idea of fair wage. Workers will eventually (like they have already) lose more rights and value if sites like these encourage this type of employment. Its really upsetting that we have to live to work instead of work to live.  

    • Anthony Caretti

      Very well written Erica.  I have been living this life for almost 5 years.  In Oct 07, my company outsourced the last of the touch labor force over to China.  Right on the heels of worst economy since the 1930′s.  From then to now, it has been one very low paying job after another.  No health ins.  No longer contributing to retirement> I can’t.  And of course, I have huge debt

  • Bigweaseldaddy

    As a 40 year old, I remember the glorification of the corporate/company system in the 80′s, but in the 90′s it seemed to be kept at arms length by people not wanting to “sell their souls” to a company. This online freelancing seems to be the next logical step for those wishing to further divorce themselves from the system. While I do not condemn or condone this, these people need to realize that as this movement grows, it will eventually develop its own set of rules and obligations that they may find just as restrictive as corporate life. 

    • Anonymous

      How does dire poverty and destitution sound. I did not listen to the whole show.  It sounded too much like those who were cheer leading for mass lay offs during the late 80s. It made me nauseous and sent my rage/blood pressure levels off the scale. 

      From what I listened to, I heard nothing that gave me any indication that people actually make a decent living at this: yet another permutation of an alternative to a real job. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey Tom, does BUR want to save money and benefits?
    I’ll do your job for $15 an hour… I’m not as good as you, nor am I a professional journalist with any experience but I have a FB page and I blog.

    I’m being sarcastic…

    • Brett

      I’ll do his job for $12 an hour! I am especially available on the days the show is about food and there are taste tests! 

      • Anonymous

        OK, OK I’ll do it for $10.45… I have a lot of knowledge about partisan politics….

        • imjust Sayin

           oh oh…
           
          I would sooOooo do it for free.

          shhh… don’t tell management.

        • Brett

          That was funny!

        • RobinGB

           I am just LoL

  • imjust Sayin

    I have been thinking about this topic for awhile, so I have a few ideas ready to roll.

    1.  Employee owned temp agencies.

       a.  fair and equitable share of profits between other investors and worker/owners.

       b.  could do any of the jobs offered by these other micro-sites, but also account for social security contributions, and other desirable aspects of a human resources department or union representation.

    2.  On a somewhat off topic idea, I have been ruminating about volunteer workers.

       a.  Volunteers, even if not otherwise reimbursed, should not have to suffer a loss.  That is, the way it is now, time spent volunteering reduces social security contributions.  The problem is, an honorable person has less benefits at a time when they are the most vulnerable.

       b.  So, if the United Way could evolve into a method of making sure volunteers for worthy causes get money contributed to their social security accounts, volunteers would not suffer a loss.

    Technology may change, but human needs, and the resulting  moral right and wrongs do not.  Just as there was a temptation to be lazy and cruel during the times of the “jungle”, those temptations still exist.

  • Anonymous

    What is the difference between this and hiring “undocumented”
    worker?

    • http://twitter.com/LilyGessert Lily Gessert

      Yes lets exploit U. S. Citizens !!!! wooopie 

  • Anonymous

    A competitive environment has been the core of American business. The consumer must be cautious and recognize there are scams out there. pro-Bids.com was created 4 years ago to keep the consumer anonymous, let ALL businesses publicly, and everyone sees the reputation of our 250,000+ service  providers. Craig Crosby CEO – pro-Bids.com

  • http://nettradr.com/ Pat Gunning

    This is capitalism at it’s finest… find a need and fill it in a competitive environment… hallelujah! Bring it on…
    What would you do for more than $5 – Micro Jobs

    • Anonymous

      That site had someone saying to can do for vector logos for $50. That’s insane given how long a logo, if done right takes to develop. Anyone who has any respect for their company will avoid this kind of person like the plague.
      Why you may ask? Well lets think about what a logo is.
      It’s just the entire look and feel of your brand distilled down to something that if designed well, (think Apple logo) people will remember. If you are starting a busniess and you try to do your branding on the cheap, well that’s a bad start in my view. You wont get much for $50. 

      • Still Here

        Please, it’s not brain surgery.  Go the $5 route and if you don’t like it, repeat.  A great logo won’t save a crummy business and vice versa. I wouldn’t have paid $5 for OP’s logo.

        • Anonymous

          Design is how we navigate the world, without good design, and good design a lot of things in our modern society would be very chaotic. It wont save a bad company, but it will help a good one get better. Go ahead, think like a cheap idiot and then wonder why you are failing.

        • http://twitter.com/LilyGessert Lily Gessert

          Go back in a time machine and ask what people thought of OP then…

      • Jv Patgunning

        Please don’t be so quick to dismiss work based on your perceptions of value. Many people in countries outside of the US will provide quality work for far less than we think is suitable.  However it can be a small fortune in their own country and be of high quality.

  • Dave

    This seems like it is creating jobs and stimulating the economy rather than just a bid for the lowest wage. A lot of jobs that wouldn’t have been available otherwise are accessible to the public. Including bureaucy to simple jobs would only delay and increase costs to something as simple as getting some dog food. Perhaps though for jobs that are more regulated there may need to be more stringent regulations.

    • Tmajor7

      Now if you could get the corporations to tone down the gouging approximately 90% so the unfortunates who have to endure this new incredible lower than low wage concept, can afford to actually live here in the USSA!

  • Steve

    What a great show – this is a terrifc option for labor.

    People less bright, less worthy, and a different skin color than I am should be allowed to leverage their skills in the global market place.

    I should be able to get a lot of cool stuff quite a bit cheaper than what I currently have to pay.

  • Anonymous

    It’s just an issue of exposure for the little guy. Small business can provide great quality, but just don’t have the advertising dollars that guys do. We make everyone equal. Public bids, public profiles, equal space – best of all it’s free.

    http://www.pro-Bids.com (250,000+ members)

    • MyThoughtsToday

       …NOT if you must bid so low that you are paid PENNIES!  That’s exposure for the little guy, but I ask you, does “the little guy” want that part of his/her anatomy open for all to see?  Get real!

  • Linda Kaboolian

    Let’s see — multi-millionaires set up a website to allow the 99% to bid against each other for a micro job with no benefits and no future and then take a share of the earnings.  What’s wrong with this picture?

    • William

      Not much. It’s between consenting adults so who cares?

      • Jimbo

        It’s between consenting adults within an economic SYSTEM.  The system is made by humans and is based on values.  What kind of system do we want to have and what kind of values do we want it to embody?  We set up economic systems via our government.  When a person is economically desperate do they have the same freedom to consent as someone who is economically secure?  Let’s resist the urge to oversimplify.

        • Turtledog

          Whoops, didn’t see your post before adding mine (above). So, i second!

      • Turtledog

        Hmm… Prostitution is between consenting adults too, and lots of other things which are damaging and mostly illegal. And, is it really even consensual when you’re broke and desperately need some cash (however low the hourly rate)..?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRTBVXTQSOPGLVECV6HA3NYJZA MoniqueDC

        Spoken like a bonifide exploiter.  

    • Jimbo

      You are right “on point,” Linda.  Everything is wrong with it, and I can’t believe how sympathetic callers and commentors have been to this kind of exploitation.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRTBVXTQSOPGLVECV6HA3NYJZA MoniqueDC

      Exactly right, Linda

    • MyThoughtsToday

       @Linda, “this picture” is called “The Hunger Games” – how ironic (smh)

  • http://igearunlimited.com/category Bob Parker

    Better the usual show. Still need further exploration of the 2nd and 3rd deriviative issues – does this create more downsizing of larger corporations to smaller corporations to outsource to contractors to micro labor. I have seen this from both sides, and it is often enabling better outsourcing arrangements for larger corporations while allowing greater flexibility of contractors to use pools like on-force.com and other firms. 

    Another part of this story is the inherent float in wages as the billing works through the system. A part of the value provided at the different players is just billing and banking.

  • Jimbo

    I think it’s very funny that Eric Koestler is trying to sell low wages and labor exploitation as “adventure.”  The correct response to anyone who tries to get you to work for pennies an hour is, “Go to hell.”

    I might have myself some “adventures” by accepting some of these low-paying jobs and doing them as poorly as possible.  I can’t wait to “paint” someone’s bedroom for $3 or less per hour so I can and unleash my inner Jackson Pollock.  Of course I will follow up with a law suit when I am injured on the job.  Let the adventures begin!

    • Tmajor7

      GREAT Stuff Jimbo!!!!!

      And Nobody Loves To Poke Fun At The Unfortunates Who Actually Have To Live Out This Type Of Story Than The Good Folks Here At The U.S. Gov’t Radio Station!!!!!!

    • Michele

       Free market economy anyone?  The market sets the value of labor.  Anything else is Socialism, right?

      • Jimbo

        In what, exactly, does the freedom of the “free” market consist?  Oil and farm subsidies? Corporate welfare?  What do you mean by “socialism”?  Do you mean government working for the general welfare by providing things like police and military protection of the citizenry? 

        • Modavations

          Socialism brought us the Ghetto

          • Anonymous

            Total bullshit LIE.
            I would take the extensive socialism of a Denmark or Sweden any day.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Nazis brought us the ghetto!  They stole the homes of Jews, and other ‘undesirables’, and rounded them up into ghettos, to be able to control them easier!
                Your ‘chemical’ life still causing you delusions?

      • Jimbo

        Michele, would you like your home painted?  I charge $5, everything included.  It’ll be an adventure.

    • MyThoughtsToday

      @1fb88fb71bcdd22f9bd4c121e9911ac7:disqus, That is the correct response.  Let’s practice!

      Now, everyone: Repeat after me “Go to hell!  Go to hell!”  Yes!  Once more, with feeling!!

  • The blessed damozel

    “Not till you see the fella that put out this here  (hand)bill. You’ll see him, or somebody that’s workin’ for him. You’ll be a-campin’ by a ditch,
    you an’ fifty other famblies. An’ he’ll look in your tent an’ see if you got anything lef’
    to eat. An’ if you got nothin’, he

    says, ‘Wanna job?’ An’ you’ll say, ‘I sure do, mister.
    I’ll sure thank you for a chance to do some work.’ An’ he’ll say, ‘I can use you.’ An’ you’ll
    say, ‘When do I start?’ An’ he’ll tell you where to go, an’ what time, an’ then he’ll go
    on. Maybe he needs two hunderd men, so he talks to five hunderd, an’ they tell other
    folks, an’ when you get to the place,they’s a thousan’ men. This here fella says, ‘I’m payin’
    twenty cents an hour.’ An’ maybe half a the men walk off. But they’s still five hunderd
    that’s so goddamn hungry they’ll work for nothin’ but biscuits. Well, this here fella’s
    got a contract to pick them peaches

    or—chop that cotton. You see now? The more fellas he can
    get, an’ the hungrier, less he’s gonna pay. An’ he’ll get a fella with kids if he
    can, ’cause—hell, I says I wasn’t gonna fret ya.” The circle of faces looked coldly at
    him. The eyes tested his words. The ragged man grew self-conscious. “I says I wasn’t
    gonna fret ya, an’ here I’m a-doin’ it.You gonna go on. You ain’t goin’ back.”

    John Steinbeck
    “The Grapes of Wrath”
     

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRTBVXTQSOPGLVECV6HA3NYJZA MoniqueDC

      Thank you, Damozel

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Microwork?  Chores for pennies?  This is sick, regressive, yet another giant step backward.  It is also a perfect example of how capitalism can’t really sustain society.  If we can’t afford to live without slaving away on either large or small scales, then we can’t afford capitalism.  So long as we keep basing society on the imaginary medium called money, things will never be balanced in this world.

    • Zing

      Good points…you may go to the end of the loser line

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRTBVXTQSOPGLVECV6HA3NYJZA MoniqueDC

      We need a better capitalism – a hybrid that combines entrepreneurship with some constraints.      Our corporations don’t think that they owe the country any consideration for using our labor, or laws, our roads, etc.
      No labor = no profit.
      There is dignity in work – and it should be valued.   Too many forget the lessons of the 1890s and the great depression.    The wider the economic gap gets in the US the stronger the social upheaval will be in reaction,   It’s all about the math – and it is predictable.

  • twenty-niner

    Devolution of the American worker:

    1) Building cars
    2) Greeting happy shoppers
    3) Odd jobs for $0.25/hour

    Now we know finally have an explanation for the higher-than-expected BLS employment numbers.

  • RobinGB

    these are jobs are ones that can’t fill by existing avenues. Buy groceries? plant 5 trees? assemble boxed furniture? To me it looks like a new market. Serving an existing need. A need companies focused on cutting the final cost to consumers have little ability to meet. Companies cannot afford these small jobs and maintain overhead. On my first glance the types of jobs posted and assigned improve  quality of life. By filling in the capitalist-inspired gaps between corporations and individual service. $17-24/hour to deliver something. Nice cash. It’s not India!!!!

  • Chripei

    Buyer (and contractor) beware!  Reminds me of the old cliche’ (which has all the truth in the world to it):
    “You can have it either — good, fast, cheap.  Pick two.”

  • Turtledog

    Hey “RobinGB”, which of these microspamming companies do you work for?

    • RobinGB

      None. It’s just an interesting idea. Maybe no more lasting than “graffiti” and the palm OS. But it’s new…. and there are forces at play.

  • Loidys

    The investors and founders can call it whatever they want, but its facilitating the abuse and eventual criminal labor practices. We were upset about “sweatshop” labor? This is much worse.

    • http://twitter.com/LilyGessert Lily Gessert

      Kathy Lee Gifford would look like a real hero now…

  • Diana4u

    Ask your guest please, what he sees as a difference between this type of work and sweat shops in the third world countries….
    It is despicable to pay such low wages…. too little to live and too much to die

  • Loidys

    You guys might be surprised to find out that 3rd world workers are moving up in pay. 4get about India and China 4 a minute…
    Workers in most of South America get free insurance, retirement, overtime, etc.
    Why do we have tp throw out fair labor practices?
    All this web labor will cheapen regular work.
    Shame on you Meg Whitman, Ashton Kutcher.

  • William

    My uncle has spent full time, the last three years on 99designs and the other spec site(I will not mention) and has won about five contests. I don’t think they all the contest owners actually paid him after he won. The site asked him to answer some questions about his income, including if the site was his main source of income. He lied and said “no.” He works those sites like a full time job and produces good results. It is greedy to have all those people work for free when then can get suffice results by choosing one person to do the job for the $150 they often offer(which probably comes to $3-$6 an hour). Why do they want to waste so many people’s time for such a low amount of money. P.S. From some of the contests I have seen, some of the big box stores are starting to use these design spec sites to have their work done. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/jenny.mcchesney Jenny McChesney

      All designers are taught to say “no” to spec work from their career infancy. It is a race to the bottom, quality-wise. You are correct, big box stores and even high profile government agencies are putting projects up on sites like this, provoking the design community to finally squawk loudly about the erosion of the value of their highly educated, highly skilled contribution to the marketplace. Maybe suggest he put some of that time into a well developed portfolio on Behance or other network, to be found for his skill and not a willingness to basically work for nothing.

      • William

        I do not participate in “spec” work myself and refuse to take part in those competitions. You can not pay rent on what those sites pay their freelancers. If they actually get paid at all. Thanks for the response.

  • Stephens

    These companies should be forced to display US Labor laws, penalties for breaking them, and a list of labor attorneys. That would make it all fair game!!

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    This show has given me an idea. You see; I regularly give money to the unemployed and homeless on the freeway off-ramps. From now on I ask them to hold up a sign for that money. I think I’ll have it read, “ Will work for one million dollars. “

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Sorry that I didn’t catch the I = I’ll error. You know when you work 60 to 70 hours a week, because your/ any employer doesn’t want to hire someone, you tend to get a little tired. Diminishing returns and all… !

    • Esp O O Kaseberg

      most of them have that much after pan handling. me and my dad stopped at a corner and my dads window was down. the man walked up and asked for change. my dad said sorry he only had big bills and was on his way to the bank. the man pulled out a wad of money (more than my fathers whole paycheck) and offered to give him change. my dad drove away… dont believe ever dirty person on the street corner needs it.

  • notafeminista

    Furthermore, the starting pay for both jobs described in the links posted from the NYT and the Detroit Free Press was well above minimum wage…$10 and $12 respectively – and still no comers.

    Americans aren’t half as desperate and starving as we’ve been led to believe.

  • Matt

    I love your show Tom, you are the best. In regards to the Micro Labor show. I wonder if we will see any CEO jobs up there soon. Because I could do a better job than some and I’ ll a million dollars less..

  • Warren

    It’s certainly a race to the bottom. Sites like elance and guru are essentially offshoring brokers, doing a huge disservice to Americans. As a designer who paid good money to be educated from a top notch design school and twenty years subsequent experience, I can’t compete with $10/hour (or less).

  • notafeminista

    To Don_B1 below:  “The jobs are really strenuous.”  I’m not sure that’s relevant  here.  Right in this very forum it’s claimed that people are starving to death in the US because they can’t find income fast enough.   Really?  Then how come these two examples can’t find workers?

    “These jobs don’t pay enough.”  Okay 1)who would know?  No one bothered to show up for the jobs and 2)Maybe it’s time to re-think the household budget.

  • Dbunkatty

    United Way in North central MA seeks volunteers online to help people (i.e. elderly or disabled need rides or snow shoveling).  No pay, just a chance to help.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    The GREEDY rich, encouraging needy people to compete for low-paying, demeaning jobs, for their perverse entertainment?
       
    ANY of them go to church?   Claim ANY morals?  Hold themselves in esteem in public?

  • Terry Tree Tree

    I could BANKRUPT GM, or any of the companies that CEOs have BANKRUPT, for HALF what they got!!
       (I would try HARD to NOT bankrupt a company that hired me, so I would probably do a MUCH better job than these CEOs)?

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  • Sjmcgarry

    Any information about if/how this is taxed? 

  • Jeff

    WorkMarket is the newest and most productive of the labor market places

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 22, 2014
In this Dec. 17, 2012 file photo, then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks a news conference in New York where he and dozens of shooting survivors and victims' relatives called on Congress and President Obama to tighten gun laws and enforcement. The former New York mayor, a billionaire and advocate of firearms regulation, plans to spend $50 million this year setting up a new group that will mix campaign contributions with field operations aimed at pulling gun-control supporters to the polls. (AP)

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new $50 million dollar push for gun control. We’ll look at the plan to take on Washington and the gun lobby.

Apr 21, 2014
In this 2003 photo released by the Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI), Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, left, is seen in Monterrey, Mexico. Behind is Colombian journalist Jose Salgar. Garcia Marquez died on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at his home in Mexico City. (AP)

Gabriel García Márquez and his spell of magical realism. We’ll cast it again, in remembrance.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

Oceans in Space. The new discovery on a moon of Saturn, and the possibility of life there.

 
Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine. A white supremacist rocks Kansas City. The Marathon bombing anniversary. And Bloomberg on guns. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Week In Seven Soundbites: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Holy week with an unholy shooter. South Koreans scramble to save hundreds. Putin plays to the crowd in questioning. Seven days gave us seven sounds.

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Our Week In The Web: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Space moon oceans, Gabriel García Márquez and the problems with depressing weeks in the news. Also: important / unnecessary infographics that help explain everyone’s favorite 1980′s power ballad.

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Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

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