Mobile devices, apps, new technologies have given birth to new platforms that match supply and demand easier than ever before. And the ability to embed payments into those platforms is what has ignited those marketplaces. But how many people participate in the gig economy? How big is it? And what do they do? We were curious, too, and collaborated with Hyperwallet to measure and size the market. Tens of thousands of data points later, we got our answer and published the PYMNTS.com Gig Economy Index™ just last week. Here are the seven “need to know” points that tell the story.
In 2015, 15.8 percent of Americans worked gigs — up dramatically from an estimated 10.1 percent of Americans in 2005. That’s an increase of 9.4 million workers. By comparison, the U.S. economy gained 9.1 million jobs in the same timeframe.
Gigs or Bust
One-half of gig workers surveyed said they wouldn't quit their gig for a full-time job.
The Great Gig Divide
There appear to be two types of gig workers. For some, gigs are already full-time work. For others, gigs are a lifeline between jobs or a supplemental cash source. Let’s call this the great divide.
About one-third of gig employees use their gig as their only source of income. They tend to have children and be less educated. The second type use their gigs to supplement existing income. This second type tends to be male, high-income and more educated.
There’s More Than One Wey To Gig
Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed worked professional service gigs. They capitalize on specialized skills like photography or graphic design.
Half of all gig work involved professional service, transportation (think Uber and Lyft) or personal service industries like health and fitness. Surprisingly, the least often cited gig work was in the hospitality industry (such as Airbnb), claiming just 2 percent of respondents.
Pay Me Quick
Over 70 percent of gig workers surveyed reported being paid within one week. And 77 percent reported they would do additional gig work if they received payment faster. Quick payment times are especially important for the workers who participate the gig economy for temporary and purchase-oriented sources of income.
Gig economy workers are projected to account for over $734 billion of income in the U.S. in 2016. That’s 4.0 percent of the GDP.
The Millennial Majority
Gig workers tend to be younger than the U.S. working population. Thirty-five percent of gig workers are ages 25 to 34. You might know these folks as millennials, and they comprise only 23 percent of the non-gig workforce.
It is unclear whether the gig economy’s flexible hours are driving younger workers toward it or a relative lack of job opportunities elsewhere forcing younger workers into gigs as a lifeline. It’s probably a bit of both.
Download PYMNTS.com Gig Economy Index™ here for all of the details.