A new way to exploit the servant class
A new underclass of servants is emerging in America, said Derek Thompson. “Wealth work,” or jobs that “cater to the whims of the wealthy,” is one of the country’s fastest-growing industries. “Between 2010 and 2017, the number of manicurists and pedicurists doubled, while the number of fitness trainers and skin-care specialists grew at least twice as fast as the overall labor force.” The work generally falls into two basic categories. There are full-time retail and service jobs at places like salons and spas, and there’s the “Uber for X” economy of contracted workers performing driving, delivery, and other on-demand tasks. In both, there are avenues for exploitation. Perhaps today’s servants might be treated better than the nannies and maids of the 19th century who “had little to no recourse, not even in name, to the protection of the law.” But modern wealth work is also much more impersonalized than it used to be, with relationships between classes “managed through an app.” “The workers of the new servant economy don’t live with their employers, but rather sleep many miles away where they can afford a bedroom.” The new economy “spreads a once intimate job across hundreds of drivers, delivery people, and spa workers” and makes them ever more invisible and alienated.