53 Essential Gig Economy Statistics

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The gig economy, characterized by temporary or flexible jobs, is an increasingly significant part of the global economy. Understanding the statistics behind this trend is of great value for employers, employees, and businesses adapting to this new way of work. This article provides a comprehensive guide to the history and future of gig economy with over 53 essential gig economy statistics.

The Growth of the Gig Economy

The gig economy has been experiencing a significant surge in recent years. This growth is fueled by a combination of technological advancements, changing workforce demographics, and evolving business needs. As traditional employment models are being challenged, more individuals are turning to gig work for its flexibility and autonomy, while businesses are leveraging it for cost efficiency and access to a broader talent pool.

This shift towards a more flexible, project-based, and on-demand workforce is not just a fleeting trend but a fundamental change in the way we view work and employment. The gig economy’s rapid growth signifies a paradigm shift in our society, underscoring the need for businesses, policymakers, and workers to adapt and thrive in this new landscape.

The Rise in Independent Workers

In 2022, freelance work in the American workforce increased to 39%, marking a three-percentage-point rise from the previous year. Among hiring managers engaging independent talent, 66% intend to boost their utilization or the number of freelancers within the next two years. Various types of freelancers significantly contributed $1.35 trillion to the U.S. economy in annual earnings in 2022, representing a $50 billion increase from 2021.

The global gig economy comprises up to 12% of the labor market and generated $5.4 trillion in revenue in 2021. Projections suggest that India’s gig workforce will grow to 23.5 million workers by 2029-30, while in the UK, gig economy workers constitute merely 1.4% of total employment.

Gig Economy Platforms and Marketplaces

  1. The projected gross volume of the gig economy is expected to reach $455.2 billion.
  2. Some of the most popular gig platforms are Airbnb (vacation rentals), Amazon Flex (package delivery), Deliveroo (food delivery), Dolly (moving), DoorDash (food delivery), Fiverr (freelance work), Instacart (grocery service delivery), iVueit (commercial property pictures), Lyft (ridesharing), Amazon Mechanical Turk (online crowdsourcing), Qwick (venue staffing), Rover (dog care), TaskRabbit (odd jobs), Uber (ride-hailing), and Upwork (freelance work).
  3. In 2022, 16% of Americans used a gig platform to earn additional income. By 2023, that figure has risen to nearly 20%.
  4. Gig workers contributed around $1.21 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2020, which is roughly 5.7% of the total U.S. GDP.
  5. In the U.S., gig workers’ incomes varied significantly. Nearly half of them, 49%, made less than $50,000 annually. About 28% fell into the income range of $50,000 to $99,000 annually, while 23% earned between $100,000 and $4 million yearly from their gig work.

Gig Economy Statistics: Employment and Income

  1. At least 59 million American adults participated in the gig economy in 2020, roughly 36% of the U.S. workforce.
  2. 24% of workers across 19 countries are full-time gig workers while 9% are also employed in a traditional setting.
  3. 40% of workers participate in gig work while still employed, compared to 30% who prefer doing only gig work full time.
  4. There were 9.94 million self-employed people in the US as of January 2023.
  5. A better work-life balance is why 70% of freelancers opt to work in the gig economy.

Employment Status and Types of Gig Workers

  1. Approximately 39-40% of U.S. adults have a side hustle.
  2. In 2023, Americans with a side hustle make, on average, $810 a month from the extra work.
  3. Nearly 5 million people had income reported for platform-based gig work to the IRS.
  4. The total number of people who collected money from platform gig work more than tripled from 2017 to 2021.
  5. Almost half (47%) of gig workers in the US have full-time jobs.
  6. 30% of younger US adults (ages 18-29) have made money through gig work at some point.

Income and Job Stability

  1. 56% of gig economy workers say they take gig jobs to earn money on top of their main source of income.
  2. The highest-paying gig economy job in the United States is massage therapy — paying an average $27.34 an hour.
  3. The average annual income of full-time employees is $62,500, while for independent workers it’s only $36,500.
  4. One of the reasons for such a large discrepancy is that gig workers work less on a weekly basis than traditional workers (25 hours a week versus 40 for full-time employees). This makes it difficult for American freelancers to manage their daily finances.
  5. Income levels improve with age. Millennial independent workers earn an average of $27,500, Gen Xers earn $36,300, and baby boomers $43,600. It’s interesting to note that the average baby boomer earns more than the average Gen Xer, even though the latter works longer hours.

Gig Economy and Worker Satisfaction

  1. In 2021, only 1% of gig economy workers in the United States reported being very dissatisfied with independent work. In contrast, 77% of people working in the gig economy reported being very satisfied with their job.
  2. The gig economy offers flexibility and autonomy and appeals to workers’ entrepreneurial spirits.
  3. 79% of freelancers are happier working independently than at traditional work.
  4. Convenience and earning potential were the most powerful persuaders followed by recommendations from friends and family, in addition to ads from gig service platforms.
  5. With more than a quarter falling victim to fraud or identity theft, while using a gig platform, participants expect gig platforms to protect identities and mitigate fraud.
  6. Gig platforms usually don’t provide gig workers with benefits such as health insurance and paid time off.
  7. Gig workers have less job security, and they take on more risk doing gig work by using their own vehicles to do delivery or their own computers and tools to do creative freelance work.
  8. 37% of full-time independent workers are aged 21-38.
  9. About 73.3 million freelancers will work in the USA by 2023.

Flexibility and Control

  1. The traditional 9-to-5 grind is being incrementally replaced by a model more reflective of today’s fluid, digital world: gig work. This paradigm shift offers flexibility and autonomy and appeals to workers’ entrepreneurial spirits.
  2. Gig economy workers have many different reasons for starting work in the gig economy and tend to prefer the flexible working hours and extra income that the gig economy allows them to have.
  3. The gig economy does not only consist of people who exclusively work gig jobs, as the majority of gig economy participants have a full-time position in addition to their gig work.
  4. According to the latest projections, there will be over 63 million gig workers in the US economy by 2023.
  5. More than 38% of the current US workforce participates in the gig economy based on 2023 projections.
  6. In 2023, about 40% of gig workers reported working one (and only one) gig in the past 12 months, slightly down from 45% in 2020; 28% reported working two gigs and 32% reported three or more gigs.
  7. Flexibility and supplemental income are the most common reasons for taking up gig work.
  8. In 2022, 60 million Americans — 39% of the total populace — engaged in some form of freelance work.

Work-Life Balance and Career Growth

  1. Roughly 60% of global workers say they have an excellent work-life balance.
  2. 77% of workers have noted they have experienced burnout at their current job.
  3. 48% of Americans consider themselves workaholics.
  4. 66% of American workers lack work-life balance.
  5. 77% of full-time US employees experienced burnout at their current job.

Challenges Faced by Gig Economy Workers

  1. 28% of paused freelancers are either on leave or unemployed, and 51% still have other sources of work.
  2. Gig workers don’t get any job security. They only work on a project-to-project basis.
  3. 16.4% of the American workforce is made up of gig workers.

Job Insecurity and Lack of Benefits

  1. Gig workers don’t get the same benefits as full or even part-time employees do.
  2. 24% of gig workers reported having no health insurance, with 58% of those citing prohibitive cost as an obstacle.
  3. It’s past time in 2024 to strengthen the income, benefits, and safety net for workers in America’s gig economy.

Financial Instability and Savings

  1. 19% of gig workers reported going hungry because they couldn’t afford food, and 30% used Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, twice the rate of regular workers.
  2. 45% of gig workers reported they could not handle a $400 emergency expense without borrowing money.
  3. 1099-MISC contractors in the US made on average $6,810 per month (vs. $6,340 among W-2 employees).
  4. Lack of job security is the biggest concern for 30% of full-time independent workers. The most common worry among independent workers is income instability. Freelance economy statistics show that this is the biggest worry for 47%, down from 56% in 2018. 28% of gig workers cite retirement planning as the biggest challenge while 26% are worried about setting boundaries at work.

The Future of the Gig Economy

The future of the gig economy is poised to be a transformative force in the global job market. As the number of freelancers and independent contractors continues to rise, gig economy platforms are becoming the primary or secondary jobs for many gig workers. These platforms are not only reshaping the traditional job market but also offering new opportunities for full-time independent workers.

The gig economy size is expanding, with professional and business services seeing a significant increase in freelance work. Gig workers report diverse experiences, with some enjoying the flexibility and work-life balance it offers, while others grapple with the challenges of financial instability and lack of traditional benefits.

However, the latest gig economy statistics suggest a positive trend. Many gig workers earn a substantial income, and the number of full-time gig workers is on the rise. This shift towards more flexible work arrangements is expected to continue, driven by workers’ desire for autonomy and the increasing digitization of the global gig economy.

Long-Term Gig Economy Trends

The long-term trends in the gig economy are indicative of a paradigm shift in how work is conceptualized, pursued, and executed across various industries. This movement is not just reshaping the job market but also redefining the essence of employment, work-life balance, and professional development. Below are some key points that capture the essence and implications of these trends:

  • Expansion of Gig Economy Platforms: There is a noticeable growth in the number and variety of gig economy platforms, catering to a broad spectrum of skills and services. These platforms are not only increasing in their user base but are also becoming more specialized, offering niche opportunities that align closely with the diverse skills of freelancers.
  • Shift Towards Independent Work: More individuals are leaning towards freelance and independent work as primary or secondary sources of income. This shift is largely driven by the allure of flexibility, autonomy, and the potential for higher earnings compared to traditional employment.
  • Work-Life Balance and Autonomy: A significant driver behind the gig economy’s growth is the desire for better work-life balance and autonomy over one’s work schedule and projects. Freelancers often cite the ability to choose projects that interest them and the flexibility to work from anywhere as key benefits.
  • Challenges of Gig Work: Despite its growth, the gig economy brings challenges such as job insecurity, unpredictable income, and the absence of traditional employment benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, and paid leave. These issues pose significant risks to the well-being and financial stability of gig workers.
  • Regulatory and Policy Evolution: There’s an ongoing evolution in regulations and policies to better accommodate the unique nature of gig work. This includes discussions and initiatives around providing gig workers with more security, benefits, and rights akin to those enjoyed by traditional employees.
  • Increasing Professionalization: The gig economy is witnessing a trend towards increasing professionalization, with more freelancers seeking to establish their work as legitimate and sustainable businesses. This includes adopting more formal business practices, continuous skill development, and leveraging professional networks.
  • Impact on Traditional Industries: Traditional job markets and industries are experiencing disruption due to the gig economy, with companies increasingly relying on freelance and contract workers for various tasks. This shift necessitates adaptations in how companies strategize their workforce management and development.
  • Technological Advancements: Advancements in technology play a crucial role in facilitating the gig economy’s growth. This includes the development of sophisticated platform algorithms, secure payment systems, and tools that support remote work, collaboration, and project management.
  • Globalization of Workforce: The gig economy is contributing to the globalization of the workforce, allowing freelancers to offer their services across borders. This opens up a world of opportunities for both workers and employers but also introduces complexities related to cross-border payments, taxes, and regulations.
  • Sustainability and Ethical Considerations: There is an increasing focus on the sustainability and ethical implications of gig work, including concerns about fair wages, worker exploitation, and the environmental impact of gig-related activities.

These trends underline the dynamic and evolving nature of the gig economy, highlighting both its potential and the challenges that need to be navigated to ensure its sustainable growth and positive impact on the broader job market.

Trends in Gig Economy Positive Aspects Challenges to Address
Expansion of Platforms – Increased variety and specialization of platforms.
– Broader opportunities across different skill sets.
– Market saturation leading to competition.
– Quality control and reliability of platforms.
Shift Towards Independence – Greater autonomy over work.
– Flexibility in choosing projects and schedules.
– Potential isolation and lack of community.
– Difficulty in separating personal and work life.
Work-Life Balance – Ability to tailor work schedules to personal needs.
– Opportunity to pursue passions and interests.
– Unpredictable workloads and income.
– Overworking without clear boundaries.
Regulatory Evolution – Emerging policies aiming to provide more security and rights for gig workers.
– Adaptation of laws to new work forms.
– Lag in policy adaptation to rapidly changing gig economy.
– Inconsistencies in regulations across regions.
Professionalization – Freelancers treating their gigs as legitimate businesses.
– Focus on skill development and networking.
– Need for self-management skills and business acumen.
– Access to professional development resources.
Impact on Traditional Industries – Flexibility for companies in workforce management.
– Access to a global pool of talent.
– Disruption of traditional employment models.
– Challenges in integrating gig workers with regular employees.
Technological Advancements – Enhanced platforms for better matching, collaboration, and payment.
– Tools supporting remote work and efficiency.
– Digital divide and access to technology.
– Security and privacy concerns in digital workspaces.
Globalization of Workforce – Opportunities for workers to access global markets.
– Diverse talent pool for employers.
– Cross-border legal and tax complexities.
– Cultural and communication barriers.
Sustainability and Ethics – Potential for reduced environmental impact with remote work.
– Awareness of fair labor practices.
– Ensuring fair wages and preventing exploitation.
– Environmental impact of platform operations.

The Role of Technology in the Gig Economy

Technology plays a pivotal role in the gig economy, serving as the backbone that connects gig economy workers with opportunities. It has enabled the rise of numerous platforms that cater to full-time independent workers and traditional full-time employees looking for additional income or a better work-life balance.

These platforms leverage advanced algorithms to match workers with suitable gigs, thereby streamlining the process of finding work. Furthermore, they often provide tools that assist with project management, communication, and payment, making it easier for workers to manage their gigs.

Innovations in technology have also led to the development of new types of gig work. For instance, the advent of ride-sharing apps has created opportunities for drivers, while online marketplaces have opened up avenues for freelance designers, writers, and other professionals.

As technology continues to evolve, it’s likely to further transform the gig economy, creating new opportunities and challenges for gig workers. The future of the gig economy will be shaped by how effectively these technological advancements are harnessed to benefit both workers and businesses.

FAQ: Gig Economy Statistics

What factors are driving the growth of the gig economy?

The growth of the gig economy is fueled by several key factors including the rise in gig websites and digital platforms that connect freelance workers with jobs, the desire for flexible work schedules, and the demand for supplemental income. Additionally, technological advancements have made it easier for individuals to offer their skills and services on a freelance basis, contributing to the expansion of the gig economy.

What is the gig economy growth rate?

The gig economy has been experiencing a significant growth rate over the past few years. Although specific figures vary by source, it’s widely acknowledged that the number of freelance workers and gig-related jobs has been increasing steadily. This trend is expected to continue as more people seek flexibility in their work lives and companies look for cost-effective ways to manage labor needs.

What percentage of Americans work in the gig economy?

It’s estimated that a substantial portion of the American workforce engages in some form of gig work. This includes full-time freelancers, those who supplement their income with gig jobs, and freelance workers who contribute to the gig economy on a project basis. The exact percentage fluctuates based on definitions and sources, but the trend indicates a growing reliance on gig-based employment.

What percent of Millennials make up the gig economy?

Millennials represent a significant percentage of the gig economy. They are more likely to embrace freelance work compared to other age groups, valuing the flexibility, autonomy, and varied opportunities that gig work offers. Millennials’ comfort with digital platforms and technology also makes them well-suited for the types of jobs that the gig economy encompasses.

What is the average income in the gig economy?

The average income for gig economy workers can vary widely based on the type of work, the amount of time invested, and the worker’s skill level. Some freelance workers earn a substantial income through their gig work, while others may earn less than traditional employment. However, the gig economy offers the potential for individuals to scale their earnings based on their availability and work preferences.

How does the gig economy impact workers’ income and job stability?

The gig economy impacts workers’ income and job stability in diverse ways. While some freelance workers enjoy higher incomes and the freedom to choose projects, others may face challenges such as income unpredictability and a lack of job security. The absence of traditional employment benefits and protections is also a concern for those relying on gig work as their primary source of income.

How does the gig economy affect work-life balance and career growth?

The gig economy can offer improved work-life balance through flexible scheduling and the ability to work from various locations. However, the need to constantly seek new opportunities can lead to work encroaching on personal time. Career growth in the gig economy is less straightforward than in traditional roles, with freelance workers often needing to proactively seek out skill development and networking opportunities.

What is the future of the gig economy and its implications for the workforce?

The future of the gig economy looks promising, with predictions of continued growth and an increasing number of people participating as freelance workers. This shift has significant implications for the workforce, including the need for policies that support the unique needs of gig workers and the potential for traditional employment models to adapt. As the gig economy evolves, it may offer new opportunities for income generation, flexibility, and employment satisfaction.

Image: Envato Elements

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