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The gig economy is changing the way people work. From ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to delivery specialists like Instacart and DoorDash to Airbnb, Upwork, Fiverr, and many more, millions of people worldwide are turning to online platforms to supplement their income and even build new careers.
But what is the current state of the gig economy in the US?
This gig economy statistics roundup should give you a better idea of how many gig workers there are, how much they’re making, who they are, and what type of activities they are working on.
- Key Findings
- Gig Work in the US
- Gig Work Demographics
- Gig Work by Industry
- Gig Worker Income by Industry
- Gig Work as a Main or Side Job
- Types of Gig Work in the US
- Gig Worker’s Benefits and Protections
- 16.4% of the American workforce is made up of gig workers.
- 30% of younger US adults (ages 18-29) have made money through gig work at some point.
- There are 9.94 million self-employed people in the US as of January 2023.
- Almost half (47%) of gig workers in the US have full-time jobs.
- 1099-MISC contractors in the US made on average $6,810 per month (vs. $6,340 among W-2 employees).
- Flexibility and supplemental income are one of the most common reasons for taking up gig work.
- 24% of gig workers lack health insurance, and 29% earn less than their state’s minimum wage. Workers often lack important benefits and protections.
What Percent of US Workers Participate in the Gig Economy?
8.5% of the American civilian workforce is made up of gig workers, accounting for 14 million American adults (out of a total of 165 million Americans in the civilian workforce).
16% of American adults have reported having earned money on online gig platforms at some point. 9% of adults have reported gig platform-related income in the past 12 months (survey conducted in August 2021).
Gig Economy Statistics
How Many Americans Are Self-Employed?
Based on the latest count in January 2023, 9.94 million people in the US are reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be self-employed. That’s an increase of 397 thousand self-employed people since 2019.
Self-Employed People in the US
Note: * In Thousands of Persons
** Incomplete data for 2023, only includes January 2023.
Gig Work Demographics
Gig Workers by Age
Experience taking up gig work is most common with younger adults, with 30% of respondents ages 18-29 years old in the US claiming to make money this way at some point, followed by an 18% participation rate in the age group of 30 to 49 years old. Less than 1 in 10 (7%) adults older than 65 reported participating in the gig economy at some point.
Gig Work Participation in the US by Age
Gig Work Participation in the US by Income Level
Gig Workers by Income
Gig work is more popular among lower-income earners than it is among middle-income earners or upper-income earners. While 25% of lower-income earners (with a family income of less than $42K) have participated in the gig economy, only 13% of middle-income earners ($42K-$125.9K) did so, and 9% of upper-income earners (over $125.9K) made money through online gig platforms.
Gig Workers by Gender
In the 2021 State of Gig Work report from Pew Research, 17% of female American adults reported having earned money from gig platform work at some point, while 15% of male US adults said they had earned money this way.
Gig Workers by Gender
Gig Work Participation in the US by Race
Gig Workers by Race
Hispanic adults in the US lead the way in gig work participation, with 30% reporting earnings from gig platform work, followed by 20% of Black adults, 19% of Asian adults, and 12% of White adults in the country.
Gig Work by Industry
The recreation and construction industries in the US are leading the way with the highest share of gig workers, 38% and 33%, respectively, followed by business services, where one-third are employed as gig workers, not as traditional W-2 employees.
The manufacturing sector uses the lowest number of gig workers, with only 2% of the workers employed as 1099-MISC contractors or short-term W-2 employees.
Gig Worker Share in the US by Industry
Gig Worker Income by Industry
Gig workers reportedly bring in from $1,080 to $11,130 in average monthly income depending on the industry, with mining paying the most ($11,130) for 1099-MISC workers and manufacturing ($3,180) leading the way for short-term W-2 employees.
Gig Worker Income in the US by Industry
Gig Work as a Main or Side Job
Pew Research reports that gig work has been a side job for nearly 7 in 10 (68%) recent gig workers in the US, while only one-third (31%) claim it was their main source of income.
According to Federal Reserve data, nearly half (47%) of gig workers in the US also had full-time roles, while 22% were employed on a part-time basis. Only 11% of American gig workers are reported to make at least 50% of their income from gigs.
Reasons for Taking Up Gig Jobs
According to a Pew Research Center survey, more than half of gig platform workers report taking up gig jobs due to income-related reasons, particularly “wanting to save up extra money” (56%) and “needing to cover gaps, changes in income (52%)”.
Other common reasons for participating in the gig economy include the ability to control their schedule (49%), and wanting to be their own boss (35%).
Based on ADP insights, work-life balance (44%) and enjoyment (38%) are the top reasons to work among 1099-MISC contractors in the US. For employees in traditional work arrangements, benefits (51%) and financial security (40%) are the driving factors.
Types of Gig Work in the US
Due to the lack of a common definition for gig work, some researchers include gig work completed offline and online (as in the case of the Federal Reserve), while others, like the Pew Research Center, focus primarily on online platform work.
Based on the Federal Reserve’s analysis of sales activities, 9% of American adults sold goods online, while another 5% sold goods at flea markets as gig workers. A total of 13% of adults performed some type of sales activity as gig workers.
Types of Gig Work Activities (sales activity)
According to the same analysis looking into service activities, 16% of gig workers completed some work related to service, including 6% for house cleaning, and property maintenance, and 3% for childcare or eldercare services.
Types of Gig Work Activities (service activity)
When looking specifically into online gig platforms, the largest share of Americans reported making deliveries (7%), performing household tasks (6%), or driving for a ride-hailing app (5%) as one of the most common gig tasks.
Types of Gig Work Activities (online gig platforms)
Gig Worker’s Benefits and Protections
The gig economy offers workers a high degree of flexibility, but workers in the gig economy may lack access to important benefits associated with traditional employment.
- 24% of gig workers reported having no health insurance, with 58% of those citing prohibitive cost as an obstacle.
- 48% of gig workers say their employment status impairs their access to health insurance.
- Only 21.9% of nontraditional workers participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2020.
- 14% of gig workers earned less than the Federal minimum wage on an hourly basis. 29% earned less than their state’s minimum wage .
- 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.
- 37% of gig workers reported being treated rudely. 35% have felt unsafe while working, and 19% have experienced unwanted sexual advances while working.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, gig workers lack overtime pay, unemployment insurance, health and safety protections, and the right to a union. The lack of paid sick days, family leave, and vacation time can lead to overwork and burnout.
The gig economy offers both advantages and disadvantages to workers. Flexibility, the ability to control schedules, the ability to supplement conventional earnings, and being your own boss are among the primary advantages.
On the downside, gig workers may lack important benefits like health insurance and employer-sponsored retirement plans, and they may have to manage more complex tax situations. Workers can manage these issues on their own, but it takes extra effort. Gig workers in less skilled occupations sometimes take on sub-minimum wages just to gain experience, with little protection from exploitative practices.
The gig economy offers both positives and negatives, but for better or worse, it’s here to stay!
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Milica has a cross-disciplinary background in web development, design and business management. She is a passionate advocate of financial education and literacy as life skills that help people live life by design. She believes that finance, or any topic, should be written to be engaging, easy to understand, and jargon-free. In her downtime, she enjoys hanging out with her dog, swimming, and trying new recipes.
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What percentage of the economy is gig workers? Approximately 9% of the American workforce participated in gig work over 2021. By value, gig workers contribute to about 5.7% of the U.S. GDP.What are the stats on the gig economy? ›
The size of the gig economy
Around 36% of US workers (approximately 57.3 million people in total) were part of the gig economy before the pandemic (Gallup, Statista). As of 2023, 73.3 million freelancers are estimated to work in the USA. 76.4 million are expected in 2024 (Statista).
Gig Economy Workers' Income Statistics
Depending on the platform and services provided, gig workers can earn an average of less than a $100 or $1,000 per month. Based on a study by Earnest Loans, 85% of gig workers earn less than $500, especially those in the ridesharing and task service platforms.
According to a 2020 survey, 50 percent of Generation Z respondents, or those between the ages of 18 and 22, reported participating in freelance work. A further 44 percent of Millennials, or those between the ages of 23 and 38, participated in freelance work.Where is the largest gig economy in the world? ›
The United States has the highest global market for gig workers, but India, Indonesia, Australia, and Brazil are rapidly growing, strong markets.Who loses in a gig economy? ›
Formerly marginalized workers win because in the gig economy they can move from no job to some work. The people who struggle most in the gig economy are corporate workers whose skills are common, commoditized, or less in demand.What is the gig economy forecast? ›
The number of gig workers is expected to grow
In 2022, 57.3 million people in the US completed some sort of freelance work, whether that was as a side hustle or their main source of income, and that figure is predicted to reach 86.5 million by 2027.
Independent contractors are the largest group in the nontraditional or "alt" workforce, and contract workers, employed by contract firms, are the fastest-growing segment.Do gig economy workers get benefits? ›
Gig economy workers don't get benefits like sick days, health insurance, vacations days, or life insurance. The jobs come gig-by-gig, and there is no guaranteed future work. If consumers are not ordering food or needing rides, then no money is coming in for the gig worker.Can you make a living in the gig economy? ›
According to the Zety study, Most gig workers (63%) earn between $7 and $15 dollars per hour and 61% believe they could be paid better if they were working in a traditional fulltime job. In addition, for 59%, gig work is their main source of income, rather than a supplementary side hustle.
Among Gen Z respondents, specifically in the US, data showed: The majority of Gen-Zers in the US (73%) see freelancing as a smart option amid an uncertain economy. 41% of respondents said they see freelancing as a good way to make additional income amid inflation.What is the largest generation in the workforce? ›
- The Silent Generation (born before 1946) – 2 percent of the U.S. workforce.
- Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) – 25 percent of the U.S. workforce.
The working environment has gone through a major transformation over the last decades, particularly in terms of population in the workforce. The generations dominating the workforce in 2023 are baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z.Which company has a huge presence in the gig economy? ›
AirbnbOpens a new window is among the world's top gig economy companies for home rentals. It has a massive full-time workforce (12,000+ employees across the world), and millions of homeowners listing their property on the website.What is gig economy also called? ›
The term "gig economy" means a general workforce environment, which includes short-term employment, contractual jobs, and independent contractors. It is also called "freelancer economy", "agile workforce", "sharing economy", or "independent workforce".What industries are affected by gig economy? ›
The gig economy spans virtually every industry, with businesses using gig workers in most sectors, including but not limited to: The public sector including education, health and care services. Local and central government. Charities.Do gig workers get Social Security? ›
Gig workers, just like W-2 employees, have access to Social Security income when they retire — but only if they pay into the program via Social Security taxes. In fact, the Social Security tax rate for self-employed individuals is 12.4%, which is twice the rate of W-2 employees.Are there decreasing number of Americans are participating in the gig economy? ›
The data shows that the number of Americans participating in gig work decreased to 10.1% of the labor force in 2017. Previously, this number was 10.9% in 2005.Why is the gig economy not sustainable? ›
Thus, the gig economy, for all its benefits in fulfilling the labor gaps of day-to-day life, is not sustainable. It is subject to high-volume turnover which creates gaps in coverage for platforms connecting gig workers to users — and sometimes a shortage of experienced workers.Is gig the future of workforce? ›
The number of global gig workers is expected to rise to 78 million in 2023. 50% of freelancers are skilled workers in fields like IT, programming, counseling, and marketing. 36% of freelancers freelance as a full-time job. 86% of freelancers think the best days for freelancing are still to come.
A gig is a job that only lasts a certain period of time. The gig economy consists of consumers, workers and companies. The workers are paid per task, project or work contract.Is the gig economy here to stay? ›
Survey responses from 1,000-plus subjects very much confirmed that gig work is here to stay. 59 million Americans— 36% of the workforce—are classified as gig workers.What are the 4 things you need to thrive in the gig economy? ›
We discovered that the most effective independent workers navigate this tension with common strategies. They cultivate four types of connections — to place, routines, purpose, and people — that help them endure the emotional ups and downs of their work and gain energy and inspiration from their freedom.How do you make the most money in the gig economy? ›
- Drive for Uber or Lyft. ...
- Freelance on Fiverr or Upwork. ...
- Babysit or nanny on Care.com. ...
- Run errands with TaskRabbit. ...
- Deliver food with DoorDash or Postmates. ...
- Rent your home on Airbnb or VRBO.
Building comprehensive schemes that include healthcare benefits, sick pay and tangible perks will go a long way in showing gig workers that you value them and the skills they bring to your company. Rewards schemes are also a great way to attract talent and engage high performing workers.What are 2 examples of work in the gig economy? ›
Examples of gig workers include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires. Gig apps and digital technology are often used to connect customers and gig workers.How much can you make doing gig work? ›
|Annual Salary||Monthly Pay|
Instead of a traditional, in-office, full-time job with a single company, gig workers work as short-term, temporary, or independent contractors for one or a variety of employers (though they are not employers in the traditional sense).How do gig economy workers pay taxes? ›
Gig Economy Income is Taxable
From part-time, temporary or side work. Not reported on an information return form — like a Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, 1099-NEC, W-2 or other income statement. Paid in any form, including cash, property, goods, or virtual currency.
In fact, a 2021 report found that 40% of gig workers would be motivated to work more often for a company if they offered faster and more regular pay, preferring to be paid weekly (45%) or even daily (36%).
Most gig workers are independent contractors while doing their gigs, though they might also be employees at their full-time job. As independent contractors, they are not entitled to benefits like paid time off or health insurance.What is the major concern with gig work? ›
High stress. With no regularly scheduled income, the gig economy can be stressful. You may go through periods where it is difficult to find work so you need to plan for periods when you may receive less income.Why do people want to be gig workers? ›
For college students or those who are already employed full time, gig economy jobs offer avenues to bring in additional wages. A flexible work schedule allows these workers to earn enough income to cover some of their basic living expenses while still providing the freedom to pursue their other commitments.Are gig workers happy? ›
While most gig workers said they were satisfied with the nature of their gig job, only 65 percent said they were satisfied with the pay they received, and 55 percent said they were satisfied with their work-life balance. Gen Z gig workers were the most likely to be happy with their gig jobs, the survey found.Do gig economy workers pay tax? ›
Individuals working in the gig economy will still pay traditional income taxes. However, if you make over $400 per year from your work as a self-employed worker, then you also need to pay self-employment tax.Do gig workers have job security? ›
Gig workers gain flexibility and independence but little or no job security. Many employers save money by avoiding paying benefits such as health coverage and paid vacation time. Others pay for some benefits to gig workers but outsource the benefits programs and other management tasks to external agencies.Are gig economy workers considered unemployed? ›
Gig workers are independent contractors, they are not employees. Employees become unemployed when they lose their job. Gig workers can be out of work, but still not qualify for unemployment due to their worker status.How old are most freelancers? ›
By the numbers: Gen Z-ers surveyed said their top career goals were businessperson, doctor and engineer. Artist took the fourth spot.Does Gen Z work harder than millennials? ›
Every generation thinks it has it harder than anyone else, but Generation Z — the young people who are now graduating from college and entering the labor market — may actually have a point.
This statistic shows the number of freelancers in the United States from 2017 to 2028. It is projected that in 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States and will make up 50.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce.What is the market sizing for the gig economy? ›
Report Overview. The global gig economy market size was USD 355 billion in 2021. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with gig economy experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels.Are roughly 36% of US workers part of the gig economy either through their primary or secondary jobs? ›
More than one-third of US workers (36%) participate in the gig economy, either through their primary or secondary jobs. This number comprises around 59 million Americans. It's not just multiple job holders; for 29% of US workers, their primary job is actually an alternative work arrangement.Who participates in the gig economy? ›
A gig economy is a labor market that relies heavily on temporary and part-time positions filled by independent contractors and freelancers rather than full-time permanent employees. Gig workers gain flexibility and independence but little or no job security.