What we’ve witnessed in recent years is a dramatic shift from traditional 9-5 full-time employment to more freelancing, part-time, and contract roles. This change is driven by both sides: employees, who want flexibility and freedom to be their own boss and employers, who see the benefits of being able to tap into talent for work exactly when and where it is needed.
Workers are supplementing full-time work with “side gigs”, or leaving the traditional workforce altogether, in pursuit of these new, on-demand opportunities. This segment of the workforce is referred to as the “gig economy”. Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers, and temporary or part-time hires.
While there is a ton of talk today about the ever-changing state of the US workforce, just how big is the gig economy? And is it here to stay? Here are 10 surprising and impressive statistics about the gig economy:
Just how big is the gig economy?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than a third of all US workers – around 59 million people in total – are now employed as independent workers. This accounts for about 34% of the US workforce.
For millennials, gig work is here to stay
Millennials are currently the most common group pursuing freelancing opportunities. In fact, 53% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 who work in the gig economy use it as their primary income source.
But an older generation is picking up gig work, too.
While Millennials may be the largest group at the moment, nearly a third of gig workers are over age 55. As more baby boomers reach retirement age, they may continue expanding the ranks of the gig workforce.
What industries are gig-friendly?
According to Statista, the largest employer of US gig workers is the government/public sector (14%). Others include: professional and business services (10%), education and health (10%), manufacturing (9%), construction (9%), financial activities (8%), information (8%), trade, transportation and utilities (7%), leisure and hospitality (6%), and tech (5%).
The gig economy accounts for almost ALL new jobs
Recent research shows that the proportion of American workers engaged in what they refer to as “alternative work” jumped from 10.7% to 15.8%. In fact, nearly ALL of the 10 million jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were not those of traditional employment.
COVID-19 has accelerated the gig economy
12% of the U.S. workforce turned to freelancing for the first time during Covid-19. Of these new freelancers, 60% said there is no amount of money that would convince them to take a traditional job, and nearly 50% already saw freelancing as a long-term career opportunity.
What do they want? Flexibility! When do they want it? Always!
So, what motivates these workers to join the gig-economy? It’s all about flexibility. When polled, the number one reason Americans gave for leaving their job to pursue the gig economy was flexibility. They want to be able to work when they want and where they want. Gig workers enjoy a flexible lifestyle and the freedom of being their own boss.
The gig economy is making noise
In 2020, gig workers contributed $1.21 trillion in revenue to the US economy. Freelancing contributes to 5.7% of US GDP.
The gig economy keeps growing…fast
It is projected that by 2023, more than half (52%) of the US workforce will either be gig economy workers or have worked independently at some point in their careers.
Yes, this way of work may be here to stay
The gig economy may be more than just a flash in the pan with 85% of US workers who currently participate in gig work saying they’ll stay with this kind of work over the next five years.