Based on your definition of a need-based economy, and our discussion of that, it seems that a worker-based economy is exactly equivalent so long as the workers all have needs (which they do). Having workers have needs and then the need-providers need workers and then also generate money based on customers is incredibly complicated.
Not to code, mind you. Computers are awesome at that sort of thing. I had that half coded and then was like "this is a nightmare for the interface." It's just one of those things that I can't possibly see as being tenable, as there are just soooo many multipliers and whatnot that then get in there. How do I wrap my head around planning for that as a player?
In terms of the number of turns act 1 should be, I'd probably say 80-100 on average. I'm pulling that number out of my rear as I have not had proper time to test in a holistic sense lately, though.