Number of Independent Workers Continues to Climb

The independent workforce continues to grow and mature, even as the economy continues to rebound and the unemployment rate declines, according to MBO Partners, the nation’s largest provider of business services and tools to the self-employed and companies that engage them. The company released its 2017 State of Independence in America report, the country’s longest-running end-to-end survey of the American independent workforce.

According to the new report, the total number of self-employed Americans aged 21 and above rose to 40.9 million in 2017, up 2.8% from 2016. Independents, who now represent about 31% of the U.S. civilian labor force, are distributed across every demographic, age, gender, skill and income group.

Over 40% of the U.S. adult workforce reports either currently working or having worked as an independent at one time during their careers. Over the next five years, MBO Partners projects that fully half of the U.S. adult workforce will have experienced what independent work can offer.

Independents work in all segments of the U.S. workforce and are of vital impact to our economy, generating roughly $1.2 trillion of revenue for the U.S. economy, equal to about 6% of U.S. GDP.

Three key trends emerged from this year’s study:

  • The number of high earning independents rose for the sixth year in a row. Ongoing economic expansion enables those whose skills are in high demand to get more work and to command a premium for their services. Now, 3.2 million full-time independents make more than $100,000 annually, up 4.9% from 2016 and an annualized increase of more than 3% each year since 2011.

  • More Americans are seeking to supplement their income with part-time independent work or “side gigging.”Though the economy is getting stronger, the typical American worker has seen very little – if any – wage gains. As a result, many Americans who are struggling to keep up with inflation and higher costs are supplementing their income with part-time independent work or side gigging. Fueled in part by the growth of the increasing number of online platforms, the number of people working as occasional independents (those working irregularly or sporadically as independents but at least once per month) soared 23% to 12.9 million, up from 10.5 million in 2016.

  • A strong job market has created a “barbell effect” on both sides of the independent work spectrum. Work opportunities are growing on both sides of the spectrum – both unskilled and skilled – creating a barbell effect. At the low end of the market, there is growing demand for online platform workers, such as Uber drivers or TaskRabbiters, who usually go independent to supplement income, learn new skills or even to socialize in retirement. On the other end of the spectrum, we see a strong rise in entrepreneurial independent professionals earning significant incomes by offering unique services in areas such as technology and marketing.

Tech Talk: Don’t Overlook the Importance of Job Titles

Matt MacBeth (left) and Don Inmon are ready to take tech-enabled Edwin the Duck to new territories with their ambitious vision for the Edwin the Duck franchise.

Since I started my first company, Purified Audio, in 1998, I’ve learned a lot, including the importance of small details like job titles. Titles might seem like a minor concern, especially at a one or two-person start-up, but the truth is, getting them right is essential to the foundation of any business … especially now, with the exposure of my current venture, pi lab – and Edwin the Duck.

Giving clear and accurate job titles to both yourself as the business owner and the employees you eventually hire sets the tone for your growth and keeps everyone in their own lane. However, there are also some pitfalls to be avoided. If you’re trying to decide what your title is, or the title of your new hire, here are some points to consider about the message those titles send to both your employees and the outside world.

What’s in a name?

In the broader business community, a job title is one of the first things your peers want to learn about you. The job title sends a message about the level of responsibility someone has and what duties they’re responsible for at the business.

For example, if someone is called a manager of some department, that implies they’re in charge of managing other employees, while a director might be a one-person department making lots of decisions. It’s important to consider the connotations of a job title, not just pick something that sounds official, impressive, or trendy.

Chain of command

The other goal achieved by giving accurate job titles to yourself and employees is to establish the organization’s chain of command early on. Whether you’re making your first, second, third or 10th hire, ask yourself what their specific tasks will be and who they will report to. By defining the role and then establishing the title, you ensure the title is comprehensive and specific to their duties.

Lastly, remember that some job titles are accompanied by salary expectations for qualified candidates. Before putting out a call for applicants, make sure you’ve done the research about comparable positions at your competitor companies and know what you’ll need to offer a talented person.

Don’t just talk the talk

Especially at a start-up, the desire to appear robust and competitive can lead to some serious job title inflation. What many entrepreneurs don’t realize is that the disconnect between yours or an employee’s actual life experiences and the implications of a title can be jarring for prospective clients and partners.

For example, if a client thinks they are meeting with your company’s chief information officer, and they walk into a meeting with a 22-year-old who is fresh out of college with no work experience in IT, that sends a message about your business’ competence and legitimacy. Just because someone is your first hire in a specific department or skill set doesn’t mean they should automatically get the highest-ranking title.

Don’t give people job titles they aren’t qualified for. Just keep it real and genuine, and the titles won’t matter so much, because your success will speak for itself.

Job titles only get more important as a business grows. At first, most people on a team are usually part of sales and generating revenue, but they might take on other duties too as necessary.

With more staff on hand, job titles are essential to delineate who has what duties and who is accountable to whom. Without that organization, your internal team will be less efficient and outsiders like clients will have a hard time understanding how your business functions.


Author: Matt MacBeth is co-founder and CEO of pi lab, creators of Edwin the Duck. MacBeth and partner Don Inmon were the 2016 Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leaders of the Year. See story and video.

Survey: Social Media Screening on the Rise

Before posting pictures of your late-night revelry or complaints about your job on social media, think again – 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, up significantly from 60% last year and 11% in 2006.

The national survey was conducted online on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll. It included a representative sample of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

Social recruiting is becoming a key part of HR departments – three in 10 employers have someone dedicated to the task. When researching candidates for a job, employers who use social networking sites are looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job (61%), if the candidate has a professional online persona (50%), what other people are posting about the candidates (37%) and for a reason not to hire a candidate (24%).

Employers aren’t just looking at social media – 69% are using online search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to research candidates as well.

Of those who decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles, the reasons included:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30%
  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27%
  • Candidate had poor communication skills: 27%
  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26%

Your online persona doesn’t just have the potential to get you in trouble. Cultivating your presence online can also lead to reward. More than four in 10 employers have found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire the candidate. Among the primary reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking site were candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications (38%), great communication skills (37%), a professional image (36%) and creativity (35%).

Debating removing your social media profiles while job searching? Think twice before you hit delete. Fifty-seven percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can’t find a job candidate online. Of that group, 36% like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview and 25% expect candidates to have an online presence.

Just because you got the job doesn’t mean you can disregard what you post online. More than half of employers use social networking sites to research current employees. Thirty-four percent of employers have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.

‘Time is Money’ Leads to Stress

Do you think of time as money? That view may be damaging your health. Research by Jeffery Pfeffer and Dana R. Carney demonstrates that people who are keenly aware of the economic value of their time generally are more psychologically stressed.

The researchers were inspired by previous research on why lawyers often are unsatisfied with their careers. That study concluded that attorneys, whose time is accounted for in billable minutes, are hyperaware of the ticking clock that rules their work lives. Even when they’re not working, they’re thinking about how much income they’re forgoing during off hours, including time with friends and family.

To demonstrate the effects of time-money awareness, Pfeffer and Carney conducted an experiment in which half of the working subjects were asked to calculate their per-minute pay rate, while the other half were not. Even though both groups worked the same number of hours and got paid the same, the cortisol levels were almost 25% higher in the time-is-money group, whose members also seemed to find less pleasure during two breaks in the experiment.

Elevated cortisol is linked to many health problems, such as anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, headaches, sleep problems, decreased immunity, weight gain and cognitive impairment. “A rise of almost 25% is a serious health consequence,” says Pfeffer.

This phenomenon is particularly disturbing as more workers piece together incomes in the so-called “gig” economy. Rather than being on a full-time payroll, they’re more focused than ever on the economic value of time.

Indiana Delegation Talks Affordable Care Act Repeal

The vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) couldn’t get off the ground in the U.S. Senate. But President Trump, Vice President Pence and many members of Congress instead have called for a simple repeal of the ACA – with a replacement coming at a later date.

Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) is on board with that process. “Hoosiers are sick and tired of endless debate on the Obamacare repeal bill, and the failure of Congress to act. This is D.C. politics as usual, and exactly why Americans sent the President to Washington to shake things up and get something done.

“We’ve had more than enough time to deliver on this promise to Americans, who have sent us here for three election cycles to repeal this failed law. I agree with President Trump that we must repeal Obamacare NOW and then work together on a plan to ensure Hoosiers get the health care they want and deserve.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Donnelly urged bipartisanship in finding common ground. “The proposed Senate health care bill would have been disastrous for Hoosiers. The latest plan to repeal without any replacement is downright reckless, playing politics with the health and economic well-being of millions of American families.

“It is time to do the hard work of forging a bipartisan bill to strengthen our current health care system, so that we can reduce costs for Hoosier families, continue to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and preserve the good work states like Indiana have done to expand affordable health care. The American people are counting on us to take a thoughtful approach together, and I urge the Senate to take this path in the coming days.”

Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08) had a different take. “Obamacare is collapsing and as a result patients across the country are at risk as premiums skyrocket and insurers flee the exchanges. In Indiana, premiums have increased an average of 74% and two of our state’s four insurers recently announced their departure from the Obamacare exchanges. Hoosiers are being priced out of the insurance market, if they can find insurance at all. This is not the health care Americans were promised by President Obama and congressional Democrats when they passed Obamacare, and certainly not what they deserve.

“To me, this is personal. I spent more than a decade as a surgeon before coming to Congress. This is about the well-being of my constituents who are struggling to access quality, affordable health care under Obamacare. That’s why I made a promise to repeal and replace this failed law to help drive down costs, expand access, and get the federal government out of decisions that should be left up to patients and their doctors. The House did its job to fulfill our promise. I’m extremely disappointed that, thus far, the Senate has failed to live up to its commitment to the American people. It’s time for the Senate to act.”

Voice Searches Taking Over

A recent report by iProspect offers a glimpse into the trends and opportunities regarding paid search marketing.

Google AdWords data showed strong mobile growth in terms of both impressions and clicks. Volume on desktops and tablets, however, was down, indicating an overall decrease in demand for those devices. Cost per click (CPC) increased across all devices, reaching the highest CPC recorded since this report’s inception in 2014. Mobile CPC saw a particularly significant increase, up 40% year-over-year, further closing the gap on desktop.

Voice search is quickly becoming the search method of choice for many consumers, says the report. Today, 500 million people use a voice search-powered digital assistant of some kind, and half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

This behavioral shift is ushering in a rise in longer, more conversational queries, causing savvy advertisers to refocus their keyword strategy to ensure it includes question-based keywords such as who, what, when, where, why and how, as well as qualifying phrases such as near me.

Small Business Tax Rankings Released

The “Small Business Tax Index 2017: Best to Worst State Tax Systems for Entrepreneurship and Small Business” ranks the 50 states according to the costs of their tax systems for entrepreneurship and small business.

View an interactive U.S. map of “Small Business Tax Index 2017” results.

Raymond J. Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council and author of the report, said: “While there is much discussion in Congress and the Trump administration about making the federal tax system more competitive, these issues obviously reach down to state and local levels as well. That’s the focus of SBE Council’s ‘Small Business Tax Index 2017.’ Specifically, which states are among the least burdensome in terms of taxes, and which inflict the weightiest burdens on small businesses?”

The SBE Council pulls together 26 different tax measures, and combines those into one tax score that allows the 50 states to be compared and ranked. Among the taxes included are income, capital gains, property, death, unemployment, and various consumption-based taxes, including state gas and diesel levies.

According to the “Small Business Tax Index 2017,” the 10 best state tax systems are: 1) Nevada, 2) Texas, 3) South Dakota, 4) Wyoming, 5) Washington, 6) Florida, 7) Alabama, 8) Ohio, 9) North Carolina, and 10) Colorado.

The bottom 10 include: 41) Connecticut, 42) Oregon, 43) New York, 44) Vermont, 45) Hawaii, 46) Iowa, 47) Minnesota, 48) Maine, 49) New Jersey, and 50) California.

Since last year’s report, several states have made significant tax changes.

Five states – Arizona, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and North Carolina – have improved their tax climates by reducing their personal or corporate income tax rates. Other states – such as New Mexico and Tennessee – have scheduled changes that will improve their tax climates for entrepreneurship, business and investment in coming years. Unfortunately, all of the news is not good. Kansas, Maine and New York have made tax changes that are negatives.

Travel Preferences: Australia and Hawaii

Survey findings from Travel Leaders Group reveal that Australia remains the most dreamed about destination for American travelers, followed by Italy, Bora Bora, Ireland and New Zealand.  Additionally, the data highlights Hawaii, California and Alaska as the most desirable U.S. destinations for vacation travelers. Survey findings from Travel Leaders Group reveal that Australia remains the most dreamed about destination for American travelers, followed by Italy, Bora Bora, Ireland and New Zealand.  Additionally, the data highlights Hawaii, California and Alaska as the most desirable U.S. destinations for vacation travelers. Travel Leaders reports:

“Australia is undeniably captivating to many Americans.  With a size mirroring that of the continental U.S., it offers immense variety from cosmopolitan cities to the rugged outback and from world-class beaches and the Great Barrier Reef to award-winning wine regions,” explains Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. 

Travel Leaders Group’s 2017 Consumer Travel Survey asked Americans to name their “ultimate dream destination” and the list includes:

  1. Australia
  2. Italy
  3. Bora Bora
  4. Ireland
  5. New Zealand
  6. Cruise – World
  7. Fiji
  8. Cruise – Europe (Mediterranean)
  9. Greek Islands
  10. Tahiti
  11. Cruise – Europe (River)
  12. (tie) Antarctica
  13. (tie) Cruise – South Pacific and Tahiti
  14. Cruise – Australia/New Zealand
  15. France 

When asked, “If you could take a trip anywhere in the U.S., where would you choose to go?” the list of top favorites included:

  1. Hawaii
  2. California
  3. Alaska
  4. Florida
  5. New York
  6. Arizona
  7. Colorado
  8. (tie) Maine
  9. (tie) Montana
  10. (tie) Washington
  11. (tie) Washington, D.C.

Indiana Chamber Key to Opening Door for 5G in Indiana

AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards spoke to Inside INdiana Business about the 5G Evolution. Soards has been an integral part of the Indiana Chamber’s Technology & Innovation Council.

You likely saw the big news from AT&T last week touting 5G service coming to central Indiana. What you might not know is that the Indiana Chamber played a significant role in making that important advancement possible.

“Improving digital infrastructure has always been a top priority for the Indiana Chamber,” says Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana. “The Chamber’s new Technology and Innovation Council has helped elevate the growing significance of 5G and other emerging technologies in Indiana and played a critical role this year in helping pass Senate Bill 213.”

This legislation clears the way for a shift in Indiana’s mobile broadband connectivity to the next generation of technology and will enable a more rapid rollout in communities across the state. We lobbied hard for Senate Bill 213 in the Indiana General Assembly and will continue to push for important policies that advance innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Indiana.

The Indiana Chamber achieves victories like this by bringing a wide spectrum of voices and perspectives to our elected representatives. You can help our state go further and do it faster by becoming a member of the Indiana Chamber or increasing your investment if you are already on board. Additionally, please consider taking part in our grassroots efforts to educate state leaders about important public policy issues that impact your organization.

Chamber Unveils Podcast: EchoChamber is Now Live!

EchoChamber is a new informal discussion with Indiana leaders in business, education, technology, politics and much more. We’ll begin with the following three outstanding guests in as many weeks before reverting to a biweekly format:

  • Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation and one of the foremost minds in the world on education and workforce policy and initiatives
  • Lee Hamilton, an 17-term U.S. representative who remains a thoughtful voice on state, national and global issues
  • Graham Richard, the innovative one-time Fort Wayne mayor who is now guiding efforts at a national organization called Advanced Energy Economy

Subscribe at iTunes, GooglePlay or wherever you get your podcasts to be notified about the latest interview.