Founder @ NowSourcing. Contributor @ Hackernoon, Advisor @GoogleSmallBiz, Podcaster, infographics
As the COVID-19 pandemic drove unemployment to levels unseen since the Great Depression, one sector of the economy rose to unprecedented heights. In 2020, the gig economy grew 33%, a rate 8.25 times faster than the US economy as a whole. 2 million Americans tried gig work for the first time, likely to make ends meet after losing traditional employment. Predictions say that almost half the US population will have engaged in gig work by 2027.
Some gig jobs flourished directly as a result of the pandemic. This was the case for delivery servers, a category that includes Uber, DoorDash, and Instacart. As one of the fastest-growing gig verticals, delivery service is expected to reach a total value of $200 billion by 2025, growing at a rate of 10.3% each year.
Despite this, the pandemic did not create gig work. The pandemic just made future trends clearer. As the US moves beyond COVID-19, freelance will play an important role in recovery. 4 in 5 US companies want to increase their use of gig workers while 50% of organizations have already done so.
What does this mean for the American worker? Can gig work provide a living wage? The answer, in many cases, is yes. Going back to delivery service, full-time drivers make almost $50,000 a year. While not glamorous, that level of income is livable. In other gig sectors like car repair, home construction, and disc jockeying, hourly wages can be much higher. 65% of gig workers believe a diverse clientele provides more income security than a full-time job. Losing one client doesn’t spell doom the way unemployment would for a traditional employee.
Some of gig work’s benefits go beyond income. Gig work is more accessible to people who don’t have a college degree, decreasing the gap created by educational attainment. People with gig jobs tend to work fewer hours than full-time employers, with 58% working less than 30 hours a week. Said hours are usually completed on the worker’s terms, making gig work a more flexible option than traditional employment would offer them.
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