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The gig economy

17 January
2021

Tiomkin School of Economics

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Prof. Seth Harris, former secretary of labor in President Barack Obama’s administration and a member of US President-elect Joseph Biden’s transition team, lectured yesterday at the Economic Policy Seminar put on by IDC Herzliya’s Raphael Recanati International School and the Tiomkin School of Economics. Harris lectured on the “future of the labor market, self-employment, and labor policy in the United States.”

 

The event began with remarks by Prof. Zvi Eckstein, dean of the Tiomkin School of Economics and Head of the Aaron Institute for Economic Policy at IDC Herzliya and Dr. Yael Hadass, head of the double major program in Business Administration and Economics at the Raphael Recanati International School.

 

Prof. Harris described the impact of the technological developments that have created a new class of self-employed workers – from Uber and Lyft employees to high-tech professionals working as independent contractors. This phenomenon has created the need to re-examine the criteria for receiving assistance from the state in the event of unemployment, as well as social benefits and job protection for this group of workers. He also inquired about the situation of the self-employed in Israel.

 

Prof. Harris also discussed recent events in the US: “I will begin by saying that today is a particularly sad and momentous day in the United States. Our president is in the process of being impeached for the second time. This may seem not atypical to you in a country where you’re about to have a fourth election in a year and a half, but this is a historic event in American politics. It is deep and disturbing.”

 

Prof. Seth Harris is an expert in labor law and a Visiting Professor at Cornell University. He recently joined US President-elect Biden’s transition team. In the Obama administration, he served as deputy secretary of labor for four and a half years and as acting secretary of labor and a member of President Obama’s cabinet for six months. He was previously a law professor at New York Law School. He has published extensively on workplace and employment issues, from both legal and economic perspectives.