By Elisabeth Buchwald
Dolly Parton’s “5 to 9” Superbowl ad is just as catchy and upbeat as her original hit song “9 to 5”.
But the reality of working in the gig economy isn’t nearly as glamorous as the Squarespace commercial directed by Oscar winner Damien Chazelle of “La La Land”.
“Working 5 to 9, you’ve got passion and a vision/Cuz it’s hustlin’ time, whole new way to make a livin’,” Parton sings in the commercial as a woman blissfully emerges from her office cubicle to pursue her side gig launching a dance fitness website.
“The majority of gig workers are forced to participate in the gig economy not to fund a passion project but to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads because one job is no longer enough to survive,” said Cherri Murphy, a Lyft /zigman2/quotes/208999293/composite LYFT -1.61% driver and organizer with Gig Workers Rising, a coalition of gig workers advocating for worker protections.
Squarespace didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.
Indeed, more Americans have joined the gig economy during the pandemic after being laid off or furloughed from their traditional 9 to 5 job, or have had their hours cut.
Gig workers typically earn money from working on-demand gigs such as driving for Uber /zigman2/quotes/211348248/composite UBER -0.64% or shopping for Instacart or freelancing on sites such as Upwork /zigman2/quotes/200102859/composite UPWK -2.06% or Fiverr /zigman2/quotes/212683127/composite FVRR -5.28% .
Their income is notoriously unpredictable, and lack many of the benefits of full-time work — one day they may find themselves getting several gigs and the next day getting few if any gigs.
The gig economy, however, appeals to some workers because they have the ability to set their own hours.
Jason Ostick, 30, is willing to accept those risks when he wakes up at 6:30 a.m. every day except Monday to get ready to hit the road to fulfill Instacart orders. He’ll also occasionally try his luck with other gig platforms such as UberEats, Doordash /zigman2/quotes/222973991/composite DASH -1.33% and Shipt /zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite TGT +1.36% .
His minimum goal is to make $100 a day, which he said he’s typically been able to achieve by around 2:30 p.m. primarily because of tips he receives.
Then he’ll head home to grab a bit to eat then he’s off to his second job working as a waiter for a family-owned pizza restaurant located in West Dundee, I.L., a Chicago suburb. He makes $10 an hour and typically gets over 20% tips from regular customers.
After 9 P.M., he picks up his 11-month old son from his parent’s house, has dinner with his fiance and finally calls it a day after putting his son to sleep.
The Parton ad he said is “an accurate portrayal of true gig workers.”
“It is a choice you make to work these gigs — you’re not required to. Can it be a lot of work and possibly a lot of hours? Yes. But for me, I am a go-getter, I love going out as much as I can.”
Waiting for gigs and slim tips from customers can make some days feel endless, he said, but he’s much happier than he was at his prior job working at another restaurant where he earned a tipped wage minimum of $6 an hour.
Murphy said gig work is oftentimes underpaid and involves long hours, mostly for people who are in dire need of money.
“Being forced to spend most of your waking hours juggling multiple jobs that provide poor pay and no real benefits or protections is not empowering,” she said, “it’s exploitation.”