Trump embracing the independent workforce will deliver growth, innovation, and bolster national security

As President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOPINION: Dear media, Americans don't care about Obama's legacy Make America’s classroom and workplaces safe again Preet Bharara emailed DOJ about phone call from Trump: report MORE prepares to take office on Jan. 20, the nation readies for many changes—the least of which is the transfer of power from a Democrat to a Republican in the White House.

America has remained clear on what they see as some of the new administration’s top priorities: strengthening our economy, reducing healthcare costs and ensuring national security.

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Encouragingly, President-elect Trump promised on election night to create “the strongest economy anywhere in the world,” and many have since weighed in on how he could deliver that. We hope to hear from him soon regarding the independent workforce, a 40-million strong contingent that represents not only the future of work, but also the future of our economy.

According to MBO Partners’ latest State of Independence survey, the independent workforce has grown more than five times faster than traditional employment over the past five years and shows no signs of slowing down. Dozens of other reports track similar growth, including new research from McKinsey that supports this trend in America as well as in 15 European countries.

Embracing this workforce with the right policies and infrastructure can be a beautiful thing. President-elect Trump has the ability to make it easy for workers to own their own career, health insurance, and retirement as well as to properly fund their own payroll tax. Let these innovative, self-directed workers be free to compete for work by unburdening their prospective and current clients from the minefield of ambiguous worker classification threats. 

With the proper set of policies and infrastructure, the independent workforce can be extremely cost effective. They will compete with offshore-outsourced labor, quickly deliver new innovations to business and help companies gain an agile competitive advantage. This portable, self-training and highly engaged workforce can add to federal and state revenues as well as comply with e-verify to insure proper identity to prevent unknown contractors from infiltrating an organization’s data, security and physical premises.

The tax proposals Trump discussed during the campaign would reduce burdens of the current corporate tax structure and give more Americans the freedom to chase their own ‘American Dream’ of independence—but cutting taxes alone is not enough.

First, the administration must be careful not to paint today’s independent with a “one size fits all” approach. Despite media attention to the contrary, most independent workers aren’t dissatisfied Uber drivers or TaskRabbits. In fact, 83% deliver a professional service to clients, such as marketing or IT consulting. Independent workers are among the nation’s most satisfied—and well compensated—with 78 percent of current independents saying they plan to stay independent or build a larger business. 28 percent of independents make more than $75,000 per year. On average, they make $64,450, a 30 percent growth from 2011. By contrast, the U.S. median household income was just $53,657 as of 2014. 

With contributions of more than $1.1 trillion to the U.S. economy each year, independents are also significant contributors to economic growth. In the past year, independent workers spent $95 billion hiring other independents, the equivalent of employing 2.3 million full-time workers. If barriers to innovation were removed, there’s no limit to how far these workers could go to further their own American dreams, and to help the economy in return.

Of course, this innovation will need some support.

First, the administration must work to clarify existing legal structures in place from organizations such as the IRS and Department of Labor (DoL) to properly draw the line between compliant microbusinesses and solopreneurs and workers that need protection.

A “safe harbor” for independents willing to proactively declare themselves to be compliant is also necessary. This would provide independents and the businesses that want to hire them a simple, yet compliant way to do business together. This categorization, a Certified Self-Employed solution, will also enable the easy collection of taxes and regulatory oversight to ensure that the system is not misused.

Additionally, President-elect Trump has promised to replace the Affordable Care Act, a plan that, while flawed, provided all Americans with access to health insurance. The new administration will need to come up with an actionable solution to enable workers to obtain not just healthcare, but all the benefits they need on a scale that will facilitate economic growth, incentivize domestic employment, and extend protections to workers like independents.  

As President-elect Trump, his administration and Congress put together proposals to strengthen America’s economy, we call on them to remove barriers to innovation, implement tax and legal structures that encourage small business growth, and promote sustainable portable benefits to fully unleash the independent workforce and their contribution to our economy.

Gene Zaino, a nationally recognized expert on the independent workforce, is founder and CEO of MBO Partners in Herndon, Va.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.