The way Washingtonians work continues to change rapidly, and to remain competitive we need our policies to keep pace.
Residual fallout from the pandemic, including supply chain challenges, inflation and other market forces have radically changed the way businesses of every size operate.
Fueled by the effects of pandemic restrictions, the modern workplace has fundamentally changed. Workers and consumers have sought flexibility and the marketplace has responded.
As a result, the app-based delivery economy flourished: from meals and groceries to household supplies, pet supplies and prescription medicine. The safety and convenience of app-based services have revolutionized the way consumers dine and shop.
The app-based economy has provided unparalleled convenience for consumers, growth opportunities for small businesses, and flexible earning opportunities for earners.
Over the past three years, app-based delivery services have become essential to ensuring that Washington’s small businesses are able to stay open and turn a profit.
These platforms have also provided life-changing earning opportunities for workers who might not previously have found a workable solution for their unique situation. Students earning money for college. Caregivers balancing the needs of a sick family member or small children. These are just two examples of workers who just want the flexibility to earn based on the schedule and hours that work for them.
The app-based delivery industry has blossomed over the last five years, with projections to grow by $320 billion by 2029, demonstrating its continued demand and need for its access.
More specifically, the industry experienced newfound growth and necessity during the pandemic, acting as a resource for restaurants to stay in business serving their communities. This option was especially vital to the many restaurants and businesses who did not already offer delivery service and helped them stay competitive.
Unfortunately, state and local policies have not kept pace with the rapid adoption of this technology. Simply put, Washington needs policies and advocates to reflect today’s modern workforce, and where it is headed. We need policies that give Washingtonians the freedom to work how, when and where they want; offer consumers more choice and convenience; and help small, local businesses thrive.
The Washington Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work is a coalition made up of business and community leaders, delivery services, consumers and independent workers throughout the state. Our aim is to unify the voices of those who believe in this mission and advocate for policies that promote economic innovation and equal opportunities for all facets of the new flexible and independent marketplace and economy.
The alliance supports policies aimed at protecting Washingtonians’ access to flexible earning opportunities.
While some claim that independent workers would benefit more from being full-time employees, the facts – and feedback from workers – suggest otherwise.
Case in point: Over 90% of independent workers who contract with the app-based delivery platform DoorDash work less than 10 hours a week, and for four out of five delivery drivers, this gig work is not their primary source of income.
Examples like these are why I am proud to support the alliance, as Washington’s ever-evolving economy and small business landscape require new policy solutions.
I urge any individual or organization interested in supporting small businesses, innovation and economic development in the state to join the alliance.
Our economy is constantly evolving, and it’s time to listen to business owners and workers directly, and partner together to find solutions that keep Washington innovative and moving forward.
Colin Hastings is the executive director of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and serves as a member of the board of directors for the Washington Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work.
Go to: washingtonalliance.org.
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