New PYMNTS Study Reveals the Ins and Outs of the Gig Economy

BOSTON--()--Gig work has seen steady growth in recent years, and American gig workers are now collectively earning up to $1.4 trillion annually. To better understand this increasingly important trend, PYMNTS surveyed more than 10,000 Americans for its most recent Gig Economy Index, getting a closer look at what motivates gig workers, what work gets done and the logistics behind the work: discovering job opportunities, finding clients and getting paid.

PYMNTS’ survey results showed that gig workers take on freelance projects for extra spending money, to work flexible hours and to set their own schedules. Just 4 percent of them joined the gig economy workforce to expand their skillset, and as many as 60 percent reported they would neither want nor need regular employment. Higher income individuals with higher education levels are more aware of the gig economy compared to lower income, less educated subsets of the population, and just over half of gig workers work on projects requiring a very specific skillset such as engineering and architecture.

In addition, the gig economy is showing unique characteristics such as seasonality and improved opportunities for non-skilled workers. More gig workers work on a seasonal basis when compared to the regular job market, and seasonal gig work includes construction, administrative, landscaping, online sales and retail, among others.

PYMNTS’ research delved into the popularity of digital marketplaces, websites and apps to connect workers with clients and facilitate payment, taxes and other business aspects. Nearly 60 percent of workers rely on digital platforms to find work in all industries represented in the gig economy. Survey responses demonstrated that those aged 18 to 34 rely on digital marketplaces the most, with the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media space being the most prevalent. More than 55 percent of gig workers rely on a single entity to help them find gigs, and nearly half are very or extremely satisfied with the service. Research respondents listed real-time client identification as the most important benefit of using a digital marketplace such as Upwork or Elance, and the attractiveness of immediate payment availability correlates as well.

Although gig workers are primarily employed by businesses, other employers like consumers, home owners and governments also rely on freelancers to perform essential duties. The most widespread methods for paying gig workers continue to be cash, check, direct deposit and PayPal. Most skilled workers get paid by check, while non-skilled workers tend to be compensated in cash. Both skilled and non-skilled workers use PayPal extensively.

It is yet to be seen whether the gig economy will supplant the regular job market, but it is becoming larger and is playing an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy.

Key findings from the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index include:

  • 37 percent of gig workers receive at least 40 percent of their income from gig economy jobs.
  • 55 percent of gig workers maintain regular, full time jobs.
  • 84 percent would do more gig projects if they were paid faster.
  • 59 percent use digital marketplaces to find new opportunities.
  • 32 percent of gig workers work on a seasonal basis.
  • 18 percent of gig workers are paid through digital marketplaces.

To access the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index, please click here.

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Alexander Terzian, +1 774-219-6132

Alexander Terzian, +1 774-219-6132