‘Sharing Economy’ Hearing in the House

The hearing — “The Disrupter Series: How the Sharing Economy Creates Jobs, Benefits Consumers, and Raises Policy Questions” — was held on Tuesday, September 29 at the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX).

“The sharing economy is an example of American innovation at its finest. With over 80 million Americans taking advantage of the many e-sharing options, we will work to better understand how this growing sector of our economy works, what it means for consumers and job creators, and what hurdles these businesses are facing across the country,” said Burgess. “This hearing will continue our subcommittee’s review of emerging technologies and the effect these innovations have on consumers, businesses, and our economy.”

We have spent a lot of time looking at the technology tools that are facilitating self-employment. Companies are challenging existing business models and creating exciting opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs, but we must also be mindful of consequences and make sure that we’re not creating a race to the bottom. The hearing examines issues that impact the sharing economy from state and local regulations, liability insurance, federal regulations, competition with incumbent industries, and the appropriate role for the federal government moving forward.

Jon Lieber of Thumbtack (we just held a webinar with them) and made two key points:

  • Marketplaces like Thumbtack empower small businesses in a way that many “on-demand” services don’t. Policymakers should be mindful of these differences, and how these platforms are likely to change going forward.
  • Decoupling what have traditionally been thought of as employment benefits from employers would benefit both small businesses and members of the growing (but poorly tracked) contingent workforce.

You can read his full testimony on the future of work.

You can listen to the full hearing on how the sharing economy creates jobs, benefits consumers, and raises policy questions.