The labour market is a key economic indicator and essentially refers to the unemployment rate. The percentage of unemployment rate in a country reflects a country’s economic state. In essence, when a country experiences an economic downturn, many companies downsize their workforce and or impose a hiring freeze.

This leads to a higher unemployment rate and hence a negative impact on the stock markets. The indicator is also a key barometer used to predict the future direction of interest rates and policy settings. Many see it as the most important indicator to watch and it has an influence on the stock markets.

I pose the theory that the ‘unemployment’ rate may not be the most effective tool anymore when it comes to policy settings.

There is a new world order and work has slowly but steadily changed over the past two decades, to the point where the word ‘work’ itself has shifted from a noun denoting the place we went to do our job to a verb that describes the act of performing tasks. The phrase ‘I’m going to work’ is now more likely to mean entering a state of activity than a physical place.

Think about it: powerful macro forces including technology, globalisation, demographics, economic abundance and environmental sustainability have disrupted nearly every aspect of work.

These shifts are affecting how work is designed, assigned and completed.

Founder of the Freelancers Union Sara Horowitz, in a series for The Atlantic, estimates that over 42 million Americans are working independently – as freelancers, part-timers, consultants, contractors, and the self-employed. And America's job-based system of health-care provision, unemployment insurance, and collective bargaining rights do not apply to them.

“One underappreciated possibility is that the considerable difference in the level of material security afforded workers in the old ‘job’ economy and in the new ‘gig’ economy helps explain the large surplus of unemployed job seekers,” muses the ‘Democracy in America’ blog for The Economist.

“We’re living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is,” writesDouglas Rushkoff for CNN. “That’s because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of its population actually working.”

Blogger Phil Bowermaster thinks, writes, and talks about emerging technologies, emerging possibilities, and the future and he poses the question; “The same technology that is eliminating jobs also connects us and empowers us in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. Maybe what’s becoming obsolete is not jobs per se, but the idea that they are something that you simply find.

“Increasingly, perhaps, a job is something that we each have to create. We can’t count on someone else to create one for us. That model is disappearing. We have to carve something out for ourselves, something that the machines won’t immediately grab. That sounds difficult, maybe even a little dangerous. We’re all comfortable with the idea of ‘finding’ a job. We search for them; we hunt them; we land them. All of these images assume the job already exists.”

Horowitz goes a step further, suggesting “the freelance surge is the Industrial Revolution of our time”.

“Everywhere we look, we can see the US workforce undergoing a massive change,” she writes in The Atlantic. “No longer do we work at the same company for 25 years, waiting for the gold watch, expecting the benefits and security that come with full-time employment. We're no longer simply lawyers, or photographers, or writers. Instead, we're part-time lawyers-cum-amateur photographers who write on the side.

“Today, careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/co-working spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.

“And, perhaps most surprisingly, many of them love it.

“This transition is nothing less than a revolution. We haven't seen a shift in the workforce this significant in almost 100 years when we transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Now, employees are leaving the traditional workplace and opting to piece together a professional life on their own. As of 2005, one-third of our workforce participated in this ‘freelance economy’. Data show that number has only increased over the past six years. Entrepreneurial activity in 2009 was at its highest level in 14 years, online freelance job postings skyrocketed in 2010, and companies are increasingly outsourcing work. While the economy has unwillingly pushed some people into independent work, many have chosen it because of greater flexibility that lets them skip the dreary office environment and focus on more personally fulfilling projects.

“This new, shared market economy is being driven by a quiet revolution: the millions of Americans who no longer want to prop up our faltering economy with endless and thoughtless consumption.

“They recognise that hyper-consumption is no longer an option, both because it's not sustainable and because they have less money to spend. Instead, Americans are starting to spend their limited income in a responsible, thoughtful, and connected way.

“They want to feel good about where their money is going.”