Is the gig economy taking over Washington, D.C.?

No, basically:

We first look at the number of District taxpayers who have paid self-employment taxes. The data show that the total number of people who pay self-employment taxes has increased in the District from 35,000 in 2006 to nearly 49,000 in 2014. This is a very steep increase (36 percent overall and nearly 4.5 percent annualized) even when compared to the relatively rapid increase in the District’s population and tax filers (tax filers grew at about 2 percent per year during the same period).  But data show that the rapid increase in the number of filers who paid self-employment taxes occurred before 2010. In fact, since 2010, the share of tax filers who pay self-employment taxes has been stable at about 14 percent.

That is from a longer post, there is more at the link.  Here is the broader (and excellent) blog on the law and economics of Washington, D.C.,


What is a 'gig' ? musical?

So, again we are looking at a fraction of the population of the DC metro region, where as anyone in the region knows, Washington DC is not where either the jobs or wealth is to be found.

One can debate about the power, of course. Until one looks at where the headquarters of the military-industrial complex is (hint - not located in DC). Or where most members of the federal government, from the lowest paid workers to senators and Supreme Court justices, who are considered to work in DC (obviously, one can make a fascinating argument that a typical member of Congress works as little as possible at the Capitol, due to the need to keep their apparently non-gig job through getting re-elected), live.

But in the reality known to anyone living in the DC metro area, Northern Virginia alone has more federal workers than the District of Columbia. (Til Hazel continues to make a large amount of money off that reality, by the way.) Though how one counts the military can make that conclusion a bit complex - otherwise, Virginia Beach makes the District look like a vibrant center of free market activity. In large part due to all the lobbyists working in DC being considered something other than federal employees. An interesting distinction, as if a parasite is independent of its host. Not to mention how those lobbyists have their own parasites in policy institutes, and who in turn have parasites providing things like video services for conferences or online marketing. One person I know who works doing that would not be included in this picture of the gig economy - because like most things involving the District, the people doing the work do not live there.

But why would a web site run by someone who has lived in Fairfax County for three decades bother with such facts - there is a narrative to be shared, by a tenured professor, about how Washington, DC is a place where fewer free lancers are found. Which is not exactly true - there is a fair bit of off the books economic activity in DC, though what areas in the District have the busiest drug markets and street prostitution these days is something better left for a current resident to explain.

Though at least Prof. Cowen was considerate enough to include a link to the following information -

'In 2014, nearly 774,000 workers reported working in the District of Columbia and they collectively earned $63.5 billion in wages and salaries. Of these workers, only 251,000 or 32 percent were District residents. The remainder were commuters from Virginia or Maryland, accounting for 68 percent of people employed in our city. The District’s share in total wages earned was even lower: District residents accounted for $18 billion of salaries and wages earned in the District. This is about 28 percent of all wages and salaries earned in the city.


The data reveal other trends. District residents who work in the District hold a disproportionate share of the lower-paying jobs: 44 percent of jobs that pay a wage of $30K or less are held by DC residents, compared to 32 percent of all jobs in the District. Virginia residents, on the other hand, tend to hold a larger proportion of higher paying jobs: 28 percent of jobs in the District and nearly 40 percent of all jobs that pay $100K or more.'

Yes, DC has suburbs...

Is that supposed to be part of some big conspiracy?

DC's suburbs are entirely in other jurisdictions, so data on DC proper may not be the right metric, is what he's saying. And anecdotally, most of my Uber drivers have Maryland or Virginia plates, for example.

Hey prior_approval, you're showing your anti-DC bias. Though it's true NoVA doesn't have the extreme wealth of Silicon Valley, it's a fact that on average N.VA has more money than California. Nearly every home owner in Fairfax County is a dollar millionaire in assets (though probably not net worth) and every household in that county makes about $100k to $120k/yr. Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, and the MD suburbs are the same. DC has wealth in the NW, SW sections. The blacks of DC are the poorest, but even they have more money than other blacks in the USA.

Especially if you include pension value. I had a FB acquaintance rail against the millionaires and demand a wealth tax. I easily shut her down by agreeing to her demand but also demanding we include all government employees who's pensions could be valued at a million dollars. Being as her husband is a federal employee, she suddenly found reasons why maybe some assets should be left alone.

I'm not sure paying self employment taxes is the right measure. Any freelancer who incorporated and payed themself as an employee would be missed.

Agreed. I used to work in a building in Bethesda for a rent seeking economic consulting firm, and we were not the only type of firm there. Economic and health care consulting firms have been popping up all over the DC metro area, and many of them are small businesses because they have to be (small business set asides, etc.). Tyler, stop trying to pimp DC as a city that has cultural value and acknowledge that it's a one note town with shit culture.

Agree. Plus, members of general partnerships would pay self-employment taxes as well, which is common in some professions like law.

Congrats on refuting a claim that nobody made?

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