Got Gigs?

The gig economy – employees working in short term, ad hoc positions and the companies employing them – is BOOMING. According to the inaugural PYMNTS Gig Economy Index™, more Americans are working gig jobs than ever before. Like 23 percent of all 18-to-24-year-olds. More than 300 new data points that shed a whole new light on this new labor force and fill important gaps that the government isn’t measuring. That, along with insights from gig workers themselves and an interview with Breandan Beneschott, COO and co-founder of Toptal, a gig entity for elite software developers, can all be found inside this Index.

Toasting new employment? Odds are increasingly good that you may be clinking your glass over your latest gig.

The number of Americans working gig jobs — or short-term, ad hoc positions — grew at a rate of 50 percent from 2005 to 2015, while the gig economy gained 9.4 million new workers, outpacing the U.S. economy as a whole. But there is still much not known about this rapidly expanding portion of the economy, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped collecting data on gigs in 2005 (yes, they existed back then) and won’t be studying them again until 2017.

As this new sector of the workforce continues to expand, PYMNTS is launching the Gig Economy Index™ in order to understand who they are, the services they provide within this economy and the percentage of their overall income the gigs represent. We surveyed more than 1,000 gig employees about their experience working in the economy, why they did it, how they were paid and their plans for the future.

Here are some key takeaways from the inaugural edition of the index:

  • 40 percent of respondents receive 40 percent or more of their income from gig economy jobs. 
  • 31 percent support themselves through one gig job.
  • 50 percent would not quit their gig for a full-time job.

The index also includes a conversation with Breandan Beneschott, COO and cofounder of Toptal, a gig entity for the top 3 percent of software developers. PYMNTS caught up with Beneschott to discuss the gig economy, its effect on the American economy as a whole and its future.

Here’s a preview:

He noted that many of the most talented employees available are looking to increase their flexibility and take more control of their scheduling, allowing them to spend more time traveling or with their families.

However, that desire for flexibility can also be one of the biggest pain points for those in the gig economy, Beneschott explained. While most gig employees enter the space hoping they can have a better work-life balance, many find themselves bogged down with administrative work, such as invoicing, billing and having to follow up again and again (and sometimes again) to ensure they actually get paid.

“It’s very difficult to manage all of that as an individual,” Beneschott explained. “You have to find your own clients and market yourself, invoice and bill and do all the administrative work that you don’t actually get paid for.”

Index research backs up Beneschott’s statements. While more than 40 percent of respondents to PYMNTS’ survey indicated that they like the gig lifestyle and plan to keep gigging, the biggest barriers to gig work remain the speed of payment and the issues that surround it. Seventy-seven percent of gig employees said they would do more gig work if they could be paid faster and more reliably.


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    About The Index

    The Gig Economy Index™, a Hyperwallet collaboration, is designed to better understand workers in the gig economy — people who often work in short-term, ad hoc positions — who they are, what services they supply and what percentage of their overall income the gigs represent.