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California voters to decide fate of gig economy workers – Reuters Canada

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(Reuters) – Trend-setting California votes on the future of the gig economy on Tuesday, deciding whether to back a ballot proposal by Uber and its allies that would cement app-based food delivery and ride-hail drivers’ status as independent contractors, not employees.

Michael Gonzales, 35, votes at the Uber Hub polling station, during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The measure, known as Proposition 22, marks the culmination of years of legal and legislative wrangling over a business model that has introduced millions of people to the convenience of ordering food or a ride with the push of a button.

Companies describe the contest as a matter of ensuring flexibility for a new generation of workers who want to choose when and how they work. Opponents see an effort to exploit workers and avoid employee-related costs that could amount to more than $392 million each for Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft Inc, a Reuters calculation showed.

GRAPHIC: Uber’s California price hikes if drivers are employees –

Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Instacart and Postmates, some of whom threaten to shut down in California if they lose, have poured $202 million into what has become the most expensive ballot campaign in state history.

“This debate is very emotional for me. I want to keep driving when I want and for whom I want,” said retiree Jan Krueger, 62, who drives part-time for Lyft in Sacramento and got a “Mom Lyft” tattoo on her shoulder.

“Everybody is super concerned about (the companies) leaving or raising prices and not being available in remote areas,” Krueger said of her passengers and driver friends.

The proposition is the app makers’ response to a new California law that requires companies that control how workers do their jobs to classify those workers as employees.

The app companies argue the law does not apply to them because they are technology platforms, not hiring entities, and that their drivers control how they work.

Companies warn they could cut 80% of drivers, double prices and even leave California, if they are forced to pay benefits including minimum wage, unemployment insurance, health care and workers’ compensation. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/33x9c77)

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates also have challenged the new law in court, but judges so far ruled against them. Uber and Lyft recently lost an appeal, which narrows their options if Prop 22 fails.

California represents 9%, roughly $1.63 billion, of Uber’s 2019 global rides and food delivery gross bookings, and some 16% of Lyft’s total rides.

Prop 22 would leave gig workers as contractors and provide them with more modest benefits than state law, including minimum pay while riders are in their cars, healthcare subsidies and accident insurance.

Company-sponsored surveys have found that more than 70% of current gig workers do not want to be employees, but labor groups have questioned those polls, saying drivers are divided.

Los Angeles Uber driver Christine Tringali said the companies’ actions were shameful.

“How can someone fight so hard to avoid paying people a living wage and giving them job security? We work just as hard as anyone else,” Tringali said.

Californians are split on the issue. An Oct. 26 poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies of over 6,600 state residents found that 46% of voters would vote in favor of the ballot measure and 42% against it, with the remainder still undecided. The poll had a sampling error of 2 percentage points. (Poll: here)

First-time voter and college student Jonah Cervantes’ mail-in ballot included a “yes” on Prop 22. He hopes to start driving for Uber or Lyft in a few months.

“It would be a lot harder for people to just hop on” as new drivers without Prop 22, said Cervantes.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Lucy Nicholson in Los Angeles; editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker

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Canadian economy added 62,000 jobs in November, Statistics Canada says – KitchenerToday.com

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Statistics Canada says the economy added 62,000 jobs in November compared with an addition of 84,000 in October.

The gains were mostly focused in full-time work with a gain of 99,000 jobs, offset somewhat by a decline in part-time work of 37,000 positions.

The average economist estimate had been for a gain of 20,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

The gains in November left the country 574,000 jobs short of recouping the approximately three million jobs lost from lockdowns in March and April that sent the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 13.7 per cent in May.

Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 per cent compared with 8.9 per cent in October.

But the pace of gains has slowed, with employment rising by 0.3 per cent in November compared to an average of 2.7 per cent per month between May and September.

In Waterloo Region, the unemployment rate dropped from 10.8 per cent in October to 9.1 per cent in November.

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Local entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for circular food economy – GuelphToday

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Local entrepreneurs got the chance to pitch their ideas to create a circular food economy earlier this week

The second cohort of graduates from the R-Purpose MICRO program presented their ideas for a more circular economy to a panel of judges for constructive criticism.

The virtual Demo Day event allowed companies to present business pitches and make connections with leaders from various industries.

The program is aimed at micro-companies who have fewer than five employees and is part of Guelph-Wellington’s Our Food Future initiative.

“This initiative is to create Canada’s first circular food economy by 2025,” said Cher Mereweather, president and CEO of the Provision Coalition. “The circular food economy is inspired by the planets natural cycle, it re-imagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, it eliminates waste, it shares in economic prosperity and it nourishes our community.

Each company has an individual idea to create a more circular food economy, from home hydroponic kits to soy-based cream liqueur.

The judges came from various backgrounds:

– Barb Swartzentruber, Executive Director for the City of Guelph Smart Cities office

– Sheri Evans, local development manager for Sobeys

– Marcia Woods, CEO and co-founder for Freshspoke

– Evan Clark, vice-chair of the Golden Triangle Angel Network

“What’s amazing is the one thing we all share,” said Clark. “We’re all optimistic about a world that can be a little bit better and a little bit more environmentally friendly. We’re all here to combat a variety of things related to climate change and how we connect with each other. ”

Out of 13 presentations, the judges picked 5th bean, a soy-based cream liqueur company, and A Friendlier Company, a company that is creating reusable takeout packaging, as the runners up.

However, a unanimous vote crowned Well Baked Box as the winner. The company works on creating sustainably-sourced boxed baking and snack kits that are delivered. The kits are all free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar.

“I think being very niche in baking is a very smart play,” said Woods. “Being able to provide that for folks who have specific dietary requirements is very cool.”

Husband and wife duo Stewart Russell and Courtney Clayson-Russell were inspired by their passions for helping others make healthier choices. Russel said when they created the company, they wanted to make a commitment to running a sustainable and environmentally conscious business.

Russell said the taking the R-Purpose MICRO course shaped the direction Well Baked Box is going to be taking.

“This has been crazy, what we thought we were doing at the being of R-Purpose MICRO and what we’re doing now and planning to do is completely different,” said Russell. “It was very special for us to be part of the course.”

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U.S. economy gains just 245,000 jobs in final report of 2020 as recovery stalls with Covid surging – NBC News

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The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, as the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists had predicted the economy would gain around 440,000 jobs.

Amid a fresh surge in coronavirus cases and a new round of shutdowns, Friday’s figure represents the fifth straight month of decelerating job gains. It is by far the lowest monthly total since the economy started its halting recovery.

Dec. 4, 202005:30

“Today’s report is both a wakeup call and a warning,” said Nick Bunker, Indeed economic research director. “Coronavirus cases are surging throughout the country and several federal relief programs are set to expire this month. Progress in the labor market has slowed at the worst possible time. We might be optimistic about the spring, but the winter could bring another round of economic pain.”

BLS unemployment data is collected on or around the 12th of the month, but more recent metrics underscore how vulnerable the economy is to a “super-surge” of coronavirus infections around the holidays that could send people back into their homes and shutter businesses.

“This surge in cases has the potential to significantly slow down overall economic activity and therefore employers’ desire to hire,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at Indeed.com. “The pullback from those households could slow consumption and therefore overall economic growth,” he said — a major risk given that consumer spending fuels some two-thirds of economic activity.

The BLS data came two days after a lackluster report on jobs growth by payroll processor ADP in conjunction with Moody’s Analytics, which found that employers added 307,000 private sector jobs last month, in contrast to the 475,000 expected among economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

“ADP’s employment report was somewhat disappointing,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter.com. “Ideally, we’d be adding 2 million a month and really climbing out of this recession.”

Two of the past three weekly jobless claims reports showed increases, reversing a months-long trend of improvements — but seeing how many people are losing jobs is only part of the equation, said Dan North, chief economist, North America at Euler Hermes.

“It does not tell the other half, which is the number of people becoming employed. You would expect with the increase in lockdowns, you would see fewer people becoming employed as well.”

Data bears this out: According to Glassdoor.com, job openings fell by 2.5 percent on a month-to-month basis and are still down by more than 10 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

“It is instructive that this decline has been very broad, which points to a repeat of what we saw in the spring, but on a smaller scale,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor. “Basically, every major group except for health care has seen job openings fall,” he said.

Since job openings are a forward-looking metric, economists are looking ahead with some trepidation to the December jobs report, which will be released just after the new year.

“Ultimately, the virus is in the driver’s seat. The virus is what determines the trajectory of the recovery,” Zhao said.

The profound distortion in usual hiring patterns that typically take place around the holidays will make forecasting difficult, North said. “There has been much less holiday hiring than the seasonal adjustments would normally account for, so that would hold the December… jobs numbers down as well,” he said.

Although the promise of a vaccine has raised the hopes of investors, public health officials warn that a large-scale rollout sufficient to protect much of the population could still be months away.

“It’s hard to see exactly when the recovery can really start,” Pollak said. “The start of vaccination is not enough. We need people to feel totally safe gathering in large numbers.”

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