From the Good Ideas file: Understanding what’s really going on with work (hint: measure it)

This article focuses on national policy, but in the process it gives a great insight into the challenges and the unknowns of what I referred to in the book as the 1099 Economy, after the United States tax form used to report income from freelance work.  And it highlights a key problem: since at the local level we rely so much on national data to understand our local economies, where does that leave us when we’re trying to anticipate and plan for a complex and uncertain future?  How do we do that with 1930s – era tools?

A call to your congressperson may be in order, but here’s another thought: many cities collect huge amounts of information on their residents — through local taxes, property registrations, you name it.  How many of the questions that the BLS and other census tools aren’t helping us answer….could be answered, if we could just sort all of those local databases and file folders the right way?  If you’re talking about open data and civic hacking in your community, might I propose that this question should be near the top of your list, especially if you are trying to transition your local economy.

And if you’re not talking about how to use your community’s data better, I think you should.    Soon.  You might want to check out EngagingCities.com to learn more (full disclosure: I’m the editor).

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