Gig economy in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

The gig economy is a section of the economy which consists of independent contractors and freelancers who perform temporary, flexible jobs. 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. 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. According to a BLS survey on the contingent worker population, the term “contingent workers” includes freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, and other non-permanent workers who are hired on a per-project basis.

Income among gig economy workers can vary greatly, with 55 percent reporting they make under 50,000 USD annually . However, financial motivations also vary among contingent workers, and gig work is not always a primary source of income. The share of high-earning independent workers, those making 100,000 USD and above, has also increased since 2011. One issue experienced by some gig economy workers is “wage theft,” or not being paid for completed work. 51 percent of freelancers have experienced wage theft at least once, and 44 percent of respondents believe this is because freelancers are not taken seriously.

56 percent of gig economy workers in the U.S. report having two or more jobs or projects, and 58 percent report working 30 hours or less per week. Work-life balance and flexible working times are both very important for people working in the gig economy in the United States. Participating in the gig economy also allows for the development of different skill sets across many different fields.

Job satisfaction among gig economy workers is high, with 80 percent reporting in September 2018 that they are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their current job. Female gig economy workers also report finding their gig work fulfilling and found the fact that they enjoy the work to be a surprising aspect of participating in the gig economy. The share of full-time independent workers who would prefer traditional employment has fallen in recent years, from 34 percent in 2012 to 22 percent in 2018.

Gig economy workers are not traditional salaried employees, and many do not have access to the same employer-provided benefits that traditional employees do. This can make saving for retirement difficult for gig workers, and according to a May 2018 survey, 27 percent of gig workers whose gig work was their main job had no retirement savings. Baby Boomers are also participants in the gig economy, with 46 percent reporting they took up gig work in order to make ends meet. The number of gig economy workers in the United States is expected to increase over the next 10 years, and a majority of the American workforce is expected to be freelance by 2027.

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