Presentation at CHI 2019: The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Abstract

The nature of work is changing. As labor increasingly trends to casual work in the emerging gig economy, understanding the broader economic context is crucial to effective engagement with a contingent workforce. Crowdsourcing represents an early manifestation of this fluid, laisser-faire, on-demand workforce. This work analyzes the results of four large-scale surveys of US-based Amazon Mechanical Turk workers recorded over a six-year period, providing comparable measures to national statistics. Our results show that despite unemployment far higher than national levels, crowdworkers are seeing positive shifts in employment status and household income. Our most recent surveys indicate a trend away from full-time-equivalent crowdwork, coupled with a reduction in estimated poverty levels to below national figures. These trends are indicative of an increasingly flexible workforce, able to maximize their opportunities in a rapidly changing national labor market, which may have material impacts on existing models of crowdworker behavior.

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