Uncommon Indicators: The Underground Economy

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sudhir Venkatesh, professor of sociology and African-American studies and director of research at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University and author of Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor and Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, talks about how the underground economy is faring in the recession. What's your relationship with the underground economy? Have you been involved more, either as a buyer or seller, in the underground economy since the recession? Comment below!


Sudhir Venkatesh

Comments [9]

Bill from Hempstead

As a antiques/collectibles dealer, my eBay business dropped off 80% over this past summer, I have started to sell in NYC flea markets again and business is pretty spotty. When you spend $100 to set up somewhere and you don't know if you will sell $500 or $30 in a day, the amount of work involved barely justifies the risk.
Most of what I sell are "collectibles" and not *essential* to most people, but, even prices and demand for useful items I come across and sell are down significantly. Junk furniture does seem to sell for other dealers, but these items are difficult to move around.
I DON'T see my business coming back until after a real estate turn-around, this is how it happened after the last bust around 1991.

Sep. 30 2009 11:12 AM
hjs from 11211

i agree but also if they don't pay in they don't get as much back. (assuming the GOP let us keep SSI)

Sep. 30 2009 10:57 AM
charles harris from island heights nj

If they vetted congress like they vett presidential appointees they would find half the congress is in the underground economy because they probably do not report the income of their domestic help

Sep. 30 2009 10:50 AM
CJ from NY

The Unemployment rate doesn't include the people who don't qualify for Unemployment Insurance either.

Sep. 30 2009 10:41 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

This freelancer is in trouble -- no safety net for us.

Paul Krugman and Eliot Spitzer were on Bill Maher recently. Krugman commented that he often feels the US is become a Latin American economy, that the American dream is dying pretty fast.

This segment confirms that.

Sep. 30 2009 10:41 AM
Lori from Montclair, NJ


So NOT paying into SSI, Medicare, Unemployment, and Federal/State tax pools is just fine?

I can see it as a temporary coping strategy but, let's be honest, in the long term, you are doing it at the expense of your fellow citizens who are paying their more than fair share.

Sep. 30 2009 10:40 AM
Bill Israel from Dix Hills, NY

I teach mathematics and always look at tutoring as a possible supplement to my income. I have noticed that the price that math tutors have charged in the past on Long Island ($75-$90 per hour) has plunged to a current price of $50 per hour, on average. This indicates to me that there are many more people plunging into the market offering their services, trying to supplement their income.

Sep. 30 2009 10:36 AM
maw from nyc

Craigslist! I just moved into a new apartment and it was, more or less, furnished by my neighbors through Craigslist.

Sep. 30 2009 10:36 AM
lauren from NJ

as a seller AND buyer, ive been trading! i've traded websites for landscaping, a patio, and interior design services.

Sep. 30 2009 10:35 AM

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