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The World's Longest Invoice: Freelancers Union Declares War on Shady Clients

Ever been stiffed by a client? Add what you're owed to the World's Longest Invoice.


We wrote back in December that freelance is the new 9-to-5—the steady job as we know it is being elbowed out by temporary and contract work. One of the huge problems with that? The payment bottleneck. Any independent contractor spends a big chunk of their time crafting follow-up emails to clients inquiring about the status of their checks, with just the right blend of sass and warmth necessary to receive their due without burning bridges. It's exhausting, and when you're behind on your rent, terrifying. Sometimes it ends in small claims court or aggressive letters from lawyers, but even that's cold comfort for someone dramatically behind on their bills.

Legislation hasn't kept up with our economic reality, so contingent workers have little recourse when they get stiffed. Fortunately, the Freelancers Union is fighting back. To promote the Freelancer Payment Protection Act–which would legally protect freelancers from shady clients who don't pay their bills—the union has launched The World's Longest Invoice, an exponentially growing tally of contract workers' outstanding balances. The site launched Thursday, and at the time of this posting, it's already up to more than 7 million dollars. I added my own sum to the list, and it was buried in seconds. The bills range from a few dollars to a stunning $150,000, owed to designers, website developers, DJs, wedding photographers, publicists, copy editors, animators—pretty much any creative person you can think of.

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One in Two College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed

The class of 2012 is about to get a gigantic wake-up call.


It may not be news to the 1.5 million college graduates struggling to find a job or toiling behind café counters, but Northeastern University researchers break it down: 53.6 percent of bachelor's degree-holders under age of 25 were jobless or underemployed last year, the highest percentage since the dot-com bubble of 2000. In the last year, college graduates were more likely to be employed as servers, bartenders, and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists, and mathematicians combined. The class of 2012 is about to get a gigantic wake-up call.

Unsurprisingly, the college majors least likely to yield a job were zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history, and humanities, intimating that practical degrees like accounting and teaching were the way out of grim post-graduate job prospects. This is certainly true, but it's a short-sighted way of thinking about our problem. We need to stop undervaluing creative fields as a culture and pressure politicians to support education and the arts. Perhaps if the government didn't keep whittling down allocations to state universities, these humanities grads wouldn't be so paralyzed by debt and could pursue their creative impulses—or score a tenure-track position with a Ph.D.

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How History Can Save Millennials' Economic Futures

Millennials could learn a thing or two from the economies of previous decades.


In our weekly Hustlin' series, we go beyond the pitying articles about recession-era youth and illuminate ways our generation is coping. The last few years may have been a rude awakening, but we're surviving. Here's how.

Of my four grandparents, all of whom were born around the turn of the century, just one—my police lieutenant grandfather, Mel—needed a college degree in order to do his job. Grandpa Mel was part of the measly 5 percent of Americans who had gone to college in 1940, a statistic I found when The Census Bureau released a cluster of infographics comparing how Americans' lives have changed. In 2010, 28 percent of Americans were college-educated. That seems like a huge jump, yet when I thought a little harder, I realized today's statistic was more depressing than the one from 1940.

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