Facebook Marketplace may add freelance “gig” jobs to its platform soon, a company spokesperson told the AIM Group. The Facebook Jobs team started exploring the industry after seeing an increase in demand for gig jobs during the pandemic.

Facebook Marketplace may generate revenue by taking a commission on transactions or through targeted ads, according to The Information, which first reported the news. But so far, Facebook has focused on Marketplace primarily as an engagement tool rather than a direct revenue generator. While the company is clearly working to generate revenue in the automotive and real estate sectors, Facebook has generally taken a long-term view on revenue generation through Marketplace.

Facebook Marketplace has grown quickly since launching in October 2016. By 2018, it had reached 800 million people per month, including one in three people in the U.S. It’s also expanded from general classifieds to jobs and automotive listings. While Facebook said it has no specific product experience to share at this point, it makes sense that the company would expand into the gig industry, given its consistent growth over the past few months.

However, the gig listings industry is a crowded field. Blue collar services are dominated by sites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, while Fiverr and Upwork have a stranglehold on the creative industry. Household services and furniture assembly is controlled by TaskRabbit, owned by Ikea, while Uber, Lyft and InstaCart reign supreme in the ride-share and delivery industries. Those are just the major players — for almost every niche, there’s a gig site tailored to it. (Even the AIM Group is part of the gig economy — all of our team members are contractors, rather than employees.)

In 2017, 34% of the U.S. workforce — or around 55 million people — were gig workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was predicted to rise to 43% by 2020, an estimate that is likely to grow in the wake of the pandemic.

Gig work has grown rapidly during the pandemic because many gig workers can work from home on “knowledge work” like teaching, writing and design, while others can work outside the home (driving, shopping, delivery) without high-end skills or a major investment. Gig work also allows for flexible scheduling, which appeals to parents staying home with school-age children or other workers who want only part-time jobs.

In the United States, gig work has become controversial as some companies — most notably Uber and Lyft — have been accused of exploiting their workers. Gig workers, who are classified as independent contractors, do not receive benefits like health insurance or 401k matching and must deduct their own taxes.

Last year, California passed a law that closely regulated gig work and required that most gig workers be treated as employees. But in November, California voters approved a ballot initiative that limited the effects of AB5 and established different rules for gig workers. Companies like Uber and Lyft poured millions of dollars into campaigns in favor of Proposition 22, which passed with 59% of the vote.

While gig companies hailed the decision, opponents said the measure would cut down on decades of labor protections. “Prop 22 is great for employers, but it’s a huge loss for workers,” Robert Reich, the former U.S. Secretary of Labor, told the New York Times. “This will encourage other companies to reclassify their work force as independent contractors, and once they do, over a century of labor protections vanishes overnight.”

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