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31 Dynamic Gig Economy Statistics for a Secure Future

Advancement of technology is fueling economic globalization. This might sound scary, but the gig economy statistics inspire optimism when it comes to the future of work. 

And while leaping into the gig world may seem risky, figures show that an increasing number of people are throwing away their shirt and tie to transform themselves into cloud workers. With custom schedules and varied job opportunities, gig workers adopt a proactive lifestyle and pursue constant professional improvement and training. 

Furthermore, the global health crisis caused by the CoVid-19 pandemic devastated conventional job markets, urging people to go remotely. 

The following facts and figures will help you understand the “cloud crowd” and leave you with the dilemma of whether you should join them or not. 

The Top 10 Gig Economy Statistics

  • The worldwide gig economy reached $4.5 trillion in estimated spending in 2018.
  • 36% of the American workforce takes part in the gig economy.
  • Freelancers from the US earn the most globally.   
  • With a 24% share, India leads the global gig economy market.
  • Full-time independent workers added $1.28 trillion to the US economy in 2018.
  • The number of freelance jobs increased by 67% in the US from 2018–2019.
  • With $115 an hour, AI developers were the highest-paid freelancers in 2018.
  • The gender pay gap is wider among workers in the gig economy.
  • 69% of temporary workers fear the lack of medical, dental, and disability benefits.
  • 34% of the gig economy workers don’t have retirement savings. 

Gig Economy Statistics Worldwide

gig economy statistics

1. Roughly 70 million people across the globe use online platforms to find remote work. 

(NCBI, SIA)

When it comes to being a freelancer, the statistics are favorable, and they show that the usage of online labor platforms is growing with an annual increase rate of 26%. One research report from 2018 shows that the region of the Americas accounted for 65% of the total B2B human cloud spend in 2018. 

It’s followed by the region of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), which spends around 21%, and the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), which accounted for 14% of the global B2B human cloud spending. What’s more, the report found that 18 countries were responsible for 90% of the global spend on temporary work agencies per type of contingent worker.

2. In 2018, the worldwide gig economy size reached $4.5 trillion in spending. 

(SIA)

The rise of the gig economy resulted in $4.5 trillion in global spending, while $126.3 billion was spent on the human cloud. This year, approximately $7.8 billion was spent on B2B human cloud transactions, while IT and creative job categories accounted for 75% of the amount. 

The majority of the human cloud spending was attributed to business-to-consumer (B2C) services such as Uber, Postmates, Lyft, or Instacart. On the other hand, the B2B human cloud growth increased by 22% year-over-year, compared to the 19% growth rate in 2017. 

3. Accounting for almost one-quarter of its shares, India leads the global gig economy, statistics show.

(Quartz India)

With a population of 1.3 billion and over 400 million millennials, it’s no surprise that India is one of the biggest talent hubs, accounting for the largest global freelance workforce. The Indian freelancers earn an average hourly rate of $18, which is less than the global average of $21 per hour. 

However, 2019 figures show that freelancers in India have revenue growth of 29% every year. Three out of four freelancers are younger than 35, and, according to Payoneer, only 20% of them are female. Payoneer also reveals that 25% of the workers are offering web and graphic design, making it the most popular online gig in India, followed by IT services (20%), and programming (15%).

4. Global freelance economy statistics show that the US freelancers earn the most. 

(CNBC)

Based on the annual revenue growth, the US is the most freelance-friendly country in the world, with one of the fastest-growing markets for freelance work. The Global Gig-Economy Index survey, including more than 300,000 freelance workers, shows that 2019 was especially lucrative for American freelancers, with earnings going up by 78% on a year-by-year basis. 

The UK had the second-best score for the increase in earnings, where they went up for 59%, while Brazil was in third place with 48%. Furthermore, Asia, Pakistan, the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh had the best regional growth for the whole continent of 138%. Ukraine, Russia, and Serbia were also among the top 10 most prominent gig markets in 2019.

5. With $115 an hour, AI developers were the highest-paid freelancers of the gig economy, statistics for 2018 reveal.

(The Balance SMB)

An online study conducted by Fit Small Business, which evaluated gig jobs according to their earnings and their job growth index, found that nine out of 10 best-paying jobs are in the IT and AI sectors. Jobs in deep learning and artificial intelligence ranked at the top, with an average hourly rate of $115.06 per hour and over 8,000 deep learning jobs on LinkedIn. The second was blockchain architecture, with an hourly wage of $87.05, followed by robotics with an hourly rate of $77.46.

The best-paid jobs for freelancers included ethical hacking ($66.63), cryptocurrency jobs ($65.37), AWS Lambda coding ($51), VR ($50.18), ReactJS development ($40.75), Final Cut Pro editing ($37.12), and Instagram marketing ($31.23).

6. Nurses see a possible solution for their burnout in the gig economy, statistics for the UK reveal. 

(Huron, Wired)

The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that around 350,000 nurses quit their jobs due to burnout in 2013. This is bad news for the US healthcare system as well, which counts the highest number of job openings, some of which you can find here

Statistics show that there’s an estimated shortage of 200,000 nurses in the US and rising demand for many healthcare job positions. This is why UK officials are supporting the development of an app that can create flexible working solutions for nurses, and enable them to pick their own shifts to reduce burnout while improving the quality of service and reducing their stress levels

Gig Economy Trends in the US

gig economy statistics

7. The rise of the gig economy is linked to the global economic and financial crisis of 2008.

(BMO Wealth Management)

A BMO Wealth Management study concluded that the global economic crisis in 2008 affected greatly how the younger generations perceived independent work. Back in 2010, the unemployment rate doubled, reaching 9.6%, opposed to 4.6% in 2007, and this was especially devastating for those aged 16–24 who experienced double the national rate in unemployment

Consequently, young workers adapted to non-permanent arrangements, and they discovered a new way of staying in control over their work engagements. As more and more people gained a positive opinion about non-permanent work, the number of freelancers in the world, and in America, has risen significantly.  

8. A Gallup gig economy survey shows that 36% of the American workforce takes part in the gig economy.

(JOEM, Forbes) 

As per BLS data, there are approximately 57 million gig workers in America, representing more than a third, or more precisely 36%, of the total US workforce. Technological advancements influenced these figures greatly, which grew simultaneously with the number of virtual workers of America (7 million), as confirmed by these remote work statistics.

As per Gallup, 29% of the workers in America had a gig outside of their primary workplace, where 24% were full-time employees,and 49% worked part-time. In contrast to the independent workforce, contingent workers have non-permanent contracts and benefits but work similarly to a regular employee, lacking autonomy.

 9. Full-time employment statistics for independent workers show that they accounted for $1.28 trillion to the US economy in 2018.

(Upwork, MBO Partners)

Given the fact that more than one in three Americans engages in freelancing, this figure is not surprising. The percent of declared full-time freelance workers reached 28% in 2019, adding $1.28 trillion to the national economy, or as much as the GDP of Spain. The US gig workforce experienced a 7% rise for the 2014–2019 period. Meanwhile, the traditional workforce grew by only 2%. 

The rise of the gig economy is evident, and an increasing number of Americans (61%) are opting to freelance, in comparison with 53% in 2014, spending more than 1.07 billion hours of work per week since 2015.

10. Gig economy research reveals that, in the past four years, the commitment of companies to build a flexible workforce has increased by 155%. 

(Randstad USA)

A 2016 research led by Randstad USA confirms that 68% of employees and 70% of employers believe the US workforce will be mainly employed on flexible agreements by 2025. This study, including over 3,100 workers and 1,500 C-suite and human resources executives nationwide, found that 39% of workers were thinking of switching into an agile job arrangement in the next few years. 

52% of the interviewed C-suite executives stated that their organization is willing to increase their dedication to building an agile workforce. In contrast, almost seven in 10 workers believed that the future talented workforce would be mostly recruited via flexible agreements.

11. 53% of freelancers are Gen Zers, gig economy statistics reveal.

(UpWork, BLS)

Younger generations are more likely to enter the gig market. Following the UpWork report for 2019, as much as 53% of Generation Z workers are part of the freelance workforce. The share of freelance workers from other generations was estimated at 40% for millennials, 31% for Gen Xers, and 29% for baby boomers. 

In addition to participating in the independent workforce of the gig economy, 27.5% of Americans aged 16–24 are contingent workers, as per BLS data for 2017. In comparison, only 11.8% of this age group have non-contingent job positions.

12. 48% of freelancers state that faster career growth is one of the biggest gig economy benefits they experienced in the gig market.

 (Randstad USA)

The appeal of the gig working style for the biggest part of the responders in a 2016 study, including over 3000 workers, was gaining control and the belief that there is a better chance for professional growth if one becomes a contingent worker. 

For a whopping 68% of the workers, the agile work plan corresponded better with their lifestyle. 63% thought that being engaged as an agile worker will increase their qualifications for other job positions, and 56% thought that they would earn more. Some 38% of the employees even considered that they’d have better job security than being a permanent worker in a company.

13. Gig economy statistics reveal that 70% of full-time freelancers undertook 6 months of skills training in comparison to 49% of full-time non-freelancers.

(Upwork)

In order to remain marketable, gig workers are more likely than traditional workers to invest in skill training. The Upwork 2019 report shows that more than half of the freelancers are not considering shifting back to traditional work and that they proactively work to keep their place in the global gig market. 

The training areas that the freelancers usually engage in coincide with the most sought after working skills in the digital gig economy, such as technology, IT, networking, and business management.

14. Transportation, warehousing, and other services made for 60% of the gig economy growth in the period 2012–2013.

(JOEM)

There were 1.3 million new non-employer establishments created since 2009, or 75% of the total number of new businesses. Furthermore, only between 2012–2013, there were 270,000 non-employer businesses, with only three sectors accounting for 60% of the economic growth. Other services included transportation and warehousing, followed by real estate, rental services, and leasing. 

Not so long ago, the US Department of Commerce had a preposition for the new term to define the companies that ease peer-to-peer work transactions and called them “digital matching services,” because they use online platforms or applications. 

15. Care.com is the first one on the list of the top gig economy companies for freelancers.

(Fit Small Business)

In regards to barriers, commission, geographic availability, earnings per hour, and taxes, Fit Small Businesses ranked as the top US freelancer-friendly company for 2018. Care.com — a membership-based platform for babysitters, nannies, and other child care professionals — justifiably earned the 1st place on the list of the best gig economy companies, for its availability, the high user ratings, and the fact that it doesn’t retain commission. 

Task Rabbit, with an average hourly pay of $30 and user ratings of 4.25, ranked second among the US top gig economy companies, whereas Guru ranked 3rd. Rover, HopSkip Drive, and Freelancer ranked in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th places, respectively.   

Gig Economy Worker Benefits and Downsides

gig economy statistics 

16. Job satisfaction rates of on-demand workers are high, especially for those aged 40–65.

(BMO Wealth Management, Forbes)

Job satisfaction statistics show that the rates are higher for both contingent workers and the independent workforce that uses gig economy job sites. As per Gallup, almost 60% of the independent gig workers and 38% of the contingent workers reported having flexible working hours. In comparison, only 27% of regular workers reported having flexibility. 

Furthermore, 47% of the independent gig workers and 34% of the contingent gig workers were happy with their working schedule. A BMO Wealth Management survey further shows that satisfaction rates of gig workers are high, even more for those in their 40s, 50s, and early 60s.

17. Gig economy statistics from 2019 show that the work obtained by the American online freelancers increased by 67%, compared to 2018.

(Upwork, Statista)

Following figures from the 2019 Upwork report for freelancers in America, almost 90% of workers are optimistic about the future of freelancing, and with a good reason. Namely, more and more companies offer work to freelancers. In 2019, 67% of online gig workers reported obtaining more work than in 2018. 

Furthermore, in 2019, 28% of the surveyed 2,100 freelancers reported being full-time freelancers, which is 11% higher than in 2014. The overall expansion of the online gig economy resulted in Upwork having revenue of 81.5 million US dollars in 2018. 

18. Statistics on the gig economy show that 55% of workers joined in for extra earnings on the side.

(BMO Wealth Management)

The BMO Wealth Management survey from 2018 revealed that gig-workers were primarily motivated to earn extra, on the side, and this is the most important reason why they embarked on the gig market in the first place. For 55% of them, engaging in non-contractual work, meant earnings on the side and building upon savings. 

The statistics on millennials in the workplace suggest they were most likely to be inclined to this opinion (58%). On the other hand, 48% of gig workers were searching for better autonomy and control, and another 48% were motivated by the betterment of the work-life balance (Generation X). Only 22% started this type of work because they didn’t have another option (mostly baby boomers). 

19. The gender pay gap is wider in the gig economy, statistics confirm.

(Financial Times, Quartz India)

Women’s participation in the independent workforce increased by 63% since 2008. Looking for flexible working hours, they encountered even bigger pay gaps than in the classic work agreements. In the developed world, the US and Poland have the biggest pay gaps between genders for the self-employed, estimated at 56%. 

In almost every gig market in the OECD countries, women earned less, except for Estonia, where women earned more than their male cohorts. In the Asia-Pacific region, only 17% of the female gig-workers earned 87% of the pay of their male counterparts. 

20. Gig economy statistics from 2018 reveal that 69% of temporary workers fear the lack of medical, dental, and disability benefits. 

(BMO Wealth Management)

 A 2018 survey discovers that 69% of temporary workers claim that the biggest downside of their gig-arrangements is the lack of benefits regarding eventual medical, dental, or disability charges. 69% of the gig workers agreed that this is the biggest problem that they face. 

This is especially tricky for the older generations, of which 77% stated that medical insurance is their main worry in the gig economy. Millennials were not far behind these statistics because 71% were worried about these benefits as well. 

21. 55% of millennials working as contractors are worried about their revenue, the gig economy income statistics show.

(BMO Wealth Management)

Millennials state that their second most worrisome aspect of being a gig worker is the possibility of insufficient income. 55% of them and 43% of all the generations agree that this is a problem that they face. 

Out of all surveyed generations, only 17% of the income-anxious were baby boomers. Most Gen Xers worry about the profitability of gig work, and about 30% of baby boomers were concerned by debt accumulation. 48% of all generations are worried about not being paid when they are on sick leave.

22. 36% of the global digital platform workers performing simple tasks worked 7 days per week, job outsourcing statistics show.

(ILO)

Gig workers performing simple and mostly clerical tasks have it worse than the rest of the freelance workforce due to a large competition worldwide. The 2017 ILO data revealed that 52% of microtask digital workers worked six or seven days per week (16% worked for 6, and 36% worked seven days a week). 

Also, 44% of them worked 10 hours per day, for at least one-third of a month. A surprising 23% worked 10h per day for more than 11 days per month. What’s more, 43% of the microtask freelancers worked at night between 10–5 a.m., whereas 68% reported working at night from 6–10 p.m.

23. 1 in 7 gig workers works for three or more companies in a week, as per gig economy job statistics in 2017.

(JOEM)

As per figures published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), 40% of gig-workers in a given job are completing tasks for two or more companies, and one in seven have three or more employers in a week, simultaneously. 

One 2015 study reveals that around 44% of on-demand workers were employed full time, 24% part-time, and 32% said that they are not currently employed. In 2016, the Pew Research Center study, conducted on a nationally-representative sample, found that 8% of the correspondents earned money in the previous year through online platforms for gig work.

24. Gig economy stats show that 34% of gig economy workers don’t have savings for retirement.

(CNBC, BMO Wealth, PEW)

ADP Research Institute revealed that the percentage of agile workers in the US has increased by 15% in the last decade, and statistical data shows that nearly a third of them are over 55 years of age. Both the contingent and independent workforce have additional expenses and responsibilities related to healthcare, such as retirement savings, social security, savings, and paid vacation time, and for one-third of the full-time gig workers, these were difficult to handle. 

In a 2017 study, 34% of them reported having no retirement plans or savings, and about 56% said that they had up to $5,000 in savings. Only 23% of full-time workers stated being prepared for retirement, as per retirement statistics

The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the Gig Economy

gig economy statistics

25. Recent stats about the gig economy report dramatic changes caused by the CoVid-19 pandemic. 

(Brookings)

The 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing the employment landscape. According to the research, millions of Americans are losing their jobs. Due to the restricted operations and the lack of industrial activity, the US economy is significantly contracting.

26. According to an economic survey, 54% of companies expect a dramatic impact.

(PWC)

Additionally, 34% of survey respondents stated that this crisis impacts only certain clusters of their business. Their core operations are not affected that much, but they monitor the situation closely. On the other hand, 12% of the surveyed companies are not indisposed by this situation.

27. Statistics about the gig economy showed that 80% of companies are concerned about whether this crisis will lead to a new great recession.

(PWC)

Moreover, 48% of the surveyed companies are worried that this pandemic will significantly decrease consumerism. 

Additionally, 42% of the companies worry about the loss of their workforce’s productivity, while 34% of them think that supply chains will collapse. 

28. 40% of employers cannot assess the impact of the crisis on their revenue.

(PWC)

A staggering 58% of the interviewed companies are worried that the CoVid-19 pandemic will decrease their income. 

32% of them had to cancel their planned investments, and 14% are not considering any prompt actions.

29. Recent statistics on the gig economy state that major companies encourage their employees to work from home. 

(The Guardian)

Google pulled 8,000 of its workers from the office, while Twitter urged their 5,000 global employees to go remote. This impacts the non-employer companies that depend on servicing these workers daily.

30. The pandemic adversely affected those that provide driving services.

(Economic Times, Axios)

Top gig economy companies that offer driving services experienced a severe down cycle of both their engagement rates and health security. More than 20 gig-driving companies across the US and Europe experienced a total lack of work.

According to the gig economy workers statistics, just in Seattle, Uber’s driving rates fell by 60–70%.

31. Freelancers are experiencing major layoffs because of the pandemic.

(Forbes)

Although the ongoing projects persist for most freelance-catering companies, freelancers are the ones most likely to be relieved of their contracts. The French Comet alone is canceling 80% of their freelancer’s arrangements.

FAQ

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy is a term that describes a free market system where employers and workers engage in short-lasting work arrangements. The gig economy encompasses contingent or temporary workers, digital freelancers, self-employed, on-demand workers, and independent contractors.

Is the gig economy growing?

The gig economy in the US reported a 15% rise since 2010, and the workforce that takes part in it rose by 7% since 2014. 61% of the modern gig workers joined the gig economy on their own will.

What does “gig” mean in the term “gig economy”?

The word “gig” is a slang term for a paid musical performance. It translates to “short performance” and refers to the transient nature of the jobs that are offered in the gig economy.

What is the size of the gig economy?

Today, the number of freelancers in the world that use online work platforms is roughly 70 million. The global gig economy reached $4.5 trillion in 2018.

How many Americans are in the gig economy?

There are approximately 57 million workers in the US gig economy or 36% of the American population. Following the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 5.9 million of the total numbers of gig workers are contingent workers. Some 28% of freelancers are full-time employees, according to statistics from Upwork.

How does the gig economy impact benefits?

Most gig economy workers lack work-related benefits. They are forced to manage their own health insurance, worker insurance, savings, taxes, retirement plans, and paid days off, which represents a big challenge for one-third of US gig economy workers.

Conclusion

The gig economy offers a lot of perks for workers, but all of these come with the additional burden of coping with worker benefits and taxes that gig workers have to figure out on their own. And while the door to a free, digitally facilitated market is opening more and more every year, the gig economy statistics point out that the lack of worker benefits is a very probable obstacle along the way.  

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