Explaining Southern California's economy

Freelance Nation: Differing views on the 'gig' economy

Whenever times get tough, you often hear about how laid-off workers took advantage of their involuntary freedom to get entrepreneurial and start businesses. You also hear about folks who lost their jobs but found themselves. The SoCal economy is struggling with joblessness that's much higher than the national rate — 12.4 percent in L.A. County versus 9.1 in the U.S. — so you might expect the entrepreneur story to be running hot here.

But you have to be careful about these things. There are definitely arguments on both sides. At the Atlantic, Sara Horowitz is kicking off a series on the freelance surge and how it could transform work. She's not holding back:

Jobs no longer provide the protections and security that workers used to expect. The basics ­ such as health insurance, protection from unpaid wages, a retirement plan, and unemployment insurance ­ are out of reach for one-third of working Americans. Independent workers are forced to seek them elsewhere, and if they can't find or afford them, then they go without. Our current support system is based on a traditional employment model, where one worker must be tethered to one employer to receive those benefits. Given that fewer and fewer of us are working this way, it's time to build a new support system that allows for the flexible and mobile way that people are working.

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