Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was in Silicon Valley on Thursday and dropped by Thumbtack, a San Francisco start-up that helps users find and hire local professionals—everyone from painters to wedding DJs. Bush also traveled by Uber, the popular ride-hailing service that lets users order rides with a smartphone app.
As Bush and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton roll out election campaigns, both front-runners are beginning to address the growing ranks of start-up freelancers who make up the so-called sharing economy. Since the recession and recovery, more workers have become contractors for start-ups, including Uber, Airbnb and Lyft. Individuals share small-scale products and services like offering homes and apartments for rent, or driving passengers to destinations.
The small-scale tasks are often brokered through mobile technology, and the platforms connect freelancers with available short-term gigs. In an economic address Monday in New York City, Clinton called out the sharing economy as a potential factor in dampened wage growth.
While the debate over raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour looms in the background, the front runners for now are taking aim at the struggles of modern employment that often includes a patchwork of small, part-time gigs to make ends meet.
"Candidates are realizing the connection between low wages, work that is subcontracted and inequality in our country," said Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for lower-wage workers.