Gig economy & side hustle business numbers growing strongly

There has been strong growth in the number of gig economy and side hustle businesses in Queensland, according to ABS business counts data published last Thursday (see chart below). Topping the list of industries (at the 4-digit ANZSIC level) by the growth in business numbers in Queensland in 2018-19 was Management Advice and Related Consulting Services, which is the industry I expect my business is counted in, along with a wide variety of other consulting businesses. There were an additional 824 businesses in this industry by the end of 2018-19, a strong growth rate of 6.2%. The bulk of the growth that occurred in this industry was in non-employing businesses, i.e. sole traders, which increased by 520 businesses.


In the ABS data, you can also see the impacts of Uber, on the growth in the number of Taxi and Other Road Transport businesses, and of e-commerce, on the growth in the number of Non-Store Retailing businesses. Far-North-Queensland-based economist Pete Faulkner has also noted the rise of the Uber driver in his latest post:

Business counts data shows the rise of the Uber driver

Of course, it’s pretty easy to get an Australian Business Number (ABN), so the data don’t necessarily tell us anything about the strength of the economy, which as I noted earlier this week isn’t running hot at the moment (see my Qld Hot or Not Update Presentation post). Moreover, in part, the growing number of gig economy businesses could reflect diminishing opportunities to pursue traditional careers as companies increasingly try to run lean-and-mean.

Regarding the pros and cons of the gig economy, check out my Economics Explained episode from last October The Gig Economy with Darren Brady Nelson.

If you’re contemplating becoming part of the gig economy or trying a side hustle, consider reading Seth Godin’s brilliant book This is Marketing, which I reviewed soon after it was published in late 2018:

Recommended reading: This is Marketing by Seth Godin

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Entrepreneurship with Prof. Peter G. Klein – latest Economics Explained episode

My latest Economics Explained episode on entrepreneurship featuring Professor Peter G. Klein of Baylor University is now available.

Many universities now offer courses in entrepreneurship, as students have been inspired by tech entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. But what exactly is entrepreneurship and who qualifies as an entrepreneur? Is entrepreneurship essential for economic growth? To help answer these questions, I invited Professor Peter G. Klein on to Economics Explained. Peter is W. W. Caruth Chair and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Baylor University in Texas. He is also Carl Menger Research Fellow at the Mises Institute.

Use these timestamps to jump right to the highlights:

  • 2:25 – what is entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship as a mindset
  • 6:50 – Was Donald Trump an entrepreneur?
  • 15:50 – Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction
  • 19:20 – Peter’s Entrepreneurial Judgment model (check out Peter’s book co-authored with Nikolai J. Foss Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment and Peter’s Murray N. Rothbard lecture The Present State of Entrepreneurship Research on YouTube)
  • 26:15 – I mentions Cal Newport’s point that Steve Jobs thought the big value add of the iPhone was you could have your phone and iPod in the one device and didn’t foresee just how important all the apps would be (check out Newport’s great book Digital Minimalism)
  • 35:15 – discussion of best places to be an entrepreneur, in which Peter tells me that Australia may not be as bad as he thinks, and Austin, Texas is attracting people who are leaving Silicon Valley
  • 39:05 – Peter says entrepreneurs are “absolutely front and centre in process of economic growth”
  • 44:15 – Peter refers to “the allure of fine tuning the economy” regarding frequent tweaks to R&D tax incentives

The episode was recorded via Zoom video conferencing on the 12th of February 2020.

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Qld definitely not hot – slides from my Hot or Not talk at the Brisbane Club

Thanks to Ross Elliott from APP Property and Infrastructure Specialists for having invited me to present again at his annual Queensland: Hot or Not seminar at the Brisbane Club yesterday afternoon. It’s very clear the Queensland economy, and the broader national economy, isn’t hot at the moment and isn’t likely to heat up anytime soon. You can check out my slides via this link:

Qld hot or not presentation 18 February 20

Key points I made included:

GT at Brisbane Club

Addressing the Hot or Not seminar in the Edinburgh Room at the Brisbane Club on Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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Fifth anniversary of Palaszczuk Gov’t – my comments in today’s Courier-Mail

Courier-Mail State Affairs Editor Steven Wardill has written a great article on where the Palaszczuk Government is placed on its fifth anniversary today, Premier’s support plunges to same level as Bligh bloodbath, in which he quotes me:

One of Queensland’s most respected economists, Gene Tunny, said voters had been patiently waiting for the Government to steer the state to better times but it hasn’t happened.

Check out Steven’s article in today’s Courier-Mail for the rest of my comments, although if you’re a regular reader of my blog you won’t be surprised by them. The big problem this government has always had is that it’s been constrained by the existing high state debt and lacked the political cover it could have had to invest much more in infrastructure because, unlike governments in NSW and Victoria, it rejected asset sales/leases. I made this point to Steve Austin when he interviewed me in the Queensland Legislative Council chamber on the first parliamentary day of the Palaszczuk Government in March 2015:

ABC radio interview on the fiscal challenges facing the new Qld Government

GT at PH

Speaking with 612 ABC Brisbane’s Steve Austin on the Palaszczuk Government’s first day of parliament in March 2015.

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Antitrust & “Hipster Trustbusters” with Danielle Wood from Grattan – Economics Explained EP22

The massive market power of the big tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, has prompted a renewed interest in antitrust laws. To discuss antitrust, I invited Danielle Wood from the Grattan Institute on to my Economics Explained podcast, and I’ve just published the recording. Danielle is Budget Policy and Institutional Reform Program Director at Grattan. Later this year, she will take up the CEO position at the Institute. Danielle is well qualified to talk about antitrust, having once worked as Principal Economist and Mergers Director at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Check out Danielle’s 2019 Inside Story article The hipster trustbusters.

Use these timestamps to jump right to the highlights:

  • 1:45 – what is antitrust?
  • 5:40 – the hipster trustbusters
  • 8:58 – the problem with Amazon
  • 12:20 – the Chicago school view on anti-trust
  • 17:28 – the data the tech companies have on us and network effects as barriers to entry
  • 19:45 – Grattan’s analysis of market concentration in Australia
  • 25:05 – problem isn’t market power per se, but the abuse of it
  • 26:15 – discussion of US Department of Justice-Microsoft case
  • 31:10 – should we break up the big tech companies?
  • 33:29 – ACCC has been good at pushing for new powers, but it hasn’t been successful in mergers cases in the courts in the last 20 years

The episode was recorded via Zoom video conferencing on the 10th of February 2020.

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CCIQ Coronavirus interview – Chief Economist “very concerned” about potential impacts

The Courier-Mail‘s alarming story on Thursday Coronavirus to cause chaos for Queensland businesses prompted me to get in touch with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ) to seek a briefing on what they’ve learned from their various information sources. I spoke with CCIQ’s Chief Economist Marcus Smith and Senior Policy Advisor Gus Mandigora at CCIQ’s offices on Wickham Terrace at Spring Hill, Brisbane on Friday afternoon and recorded the following interview…

Continue reading

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Surveillance Capitalism with Darren Brady Nelson – latest Economics Explained episode

So-called surveillance capitalism was one of the big issues for the 2020s I identified in my first Economics Explained episode this year. Google, Facebook, and other tech giants have massive amounts of data on us and they are using it for commercial gain. In my latest Economics Explained episode, I discuss various perspectives on surveillance capitalism with my good friend Darren Brady Nelson, Chief Economist of LibertyWorks, an Australian libertarian think tank.

Darren’s recently had an article published on the Mises Institute website with the title Surveillance Capitalism: A summary of critics.

Use these timestamps to jump right to the highlights:

  • 4:45 – Darren argues some criticism of surveillance capitalism is simply the latest manifestation of opposition to capitalism in general
  • 11:40 – Darren mentions work by entrepreneur and Austrian economist George Gilder who thinks current tech giants are “going over the hill” (according to this Forbes article) and companies to watch will be in blockchain and quantum computing
  • 25:55 – Darren mentions section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act, often referred to as “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet”
  • 27:30 – discussion of how it’s monarchs or governments which have traditionally created monopolies – e.g. British East India Company
  • 42.30 – mention of recent laws affecting tech companies – EU GDPR (e.g. see this Wired article) and California Consumer Privacy Act (for info, check out this Guardian article)

This is Darren’s second appearance on Economics Explained, and we spoke via Zoom video conferencing on the 18th of January 2020. If you haven’t listened to it yet, check out my first conversation with Darren, the Gig Economy Economics Explained episode.

Finally, a big shout out to previous Economics Explained guest Andrew Leigh MP for including Economic Explained in his list of his favourite podcasts he listens to while running in an AFR article earlier this week:

Andrew Leigh: the virtues of podcasts and why my kids don’t have Xbox

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