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The Political Economy of Employment Status Disputes

Regulators at both the NLRB and Department of Labor have recently rolled back Trump-era employment status rules. To an outsider, these changes can seem pedantic and inconsequential. A political economy perspective, however, reveals a deeper logic to the new rules, which address three pernicious trends in employment classification — the ability of businesses to manipulate the inherent ambiguity in treating employment like a contract, the ascension of the ideology of human capital, and the norm of the arbitrage economy.