The gig economy statistics are showing increased interest for it in recent years, but a significant share of the workforce still has doubts about trying this less-traditional approach to employment.
In an attempt to simplify what the gig economy stands for and how it’s a valuable option to explore,—both to those seeking jobs, as well as the organizations and company—a list of the most impactful facts and figures was compiled.
If you want to know more about the gig economy or are simply curious, read on.
Key Gig Economy Trends and Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- Around 34% of the workforce was somehow involved in the gig economy pre-pandemic.
- Over 50% of full-time gig workers felt more financially secure than those with traditional jobs in 2019.
- The number of employed independents decreased by seven percent after the outbreak.
- There were 24.6 million part-time workers in the US in 2020.
- Income statistics show wages and participation in the gig economy have increased by 33% in 2020.
- 70% of freelancers cite a better work-life balance as the reason they choose the gig economy.
- India has emerged as the fifth largest gig economy market in 2021.
What Is the Gig Economy?
The gig economy is a flexible employment system based on temporary job positions and short-term arrangements between an organization and an individual.
There are plenty of ways people can be a part of it—as freelancers, individual contractors, part-time workers.
This system works well for both parties; employers can choose from a wider pool of international talent and find the perfect person for a single project. On the other hand, workers also get to choose the projects they’re interested in and companies that fit their idea of a satisfying working arrangement.
Gig Economy Pre–Pandemic Growth
Even prior to the pandemic-induced rise in search for untraditional working arrangements, many people were drawn to more versatile jobs—the figures clearly show the growing interest.
1. 67% of regular full-time employees intended to leave their full-time jobs for a gig.
Gig economy statistics show that 67% of employees said they would leave their current full-time position for a gig.
About 49% of them would stay in their jobs if offered a higher salary. Only 29% mentioned more benefits, while 27% wanted more flexibility in scheduling.
Conversely, 48% of gig workers would leave their jobs for better pay, and 33% would do the same for a more flexible schedule.
2. In the United States, there were about 170 gig economy businesses that only employ freelancers.
The latest available statistics in 2021 show that the largest digital corporations in the United States have an active gig economy. Some of these companies include Toptal, InVision, AnswerConnect, and Automatic. More than 30% of Fortune 500 companies are reportedly using this network to find talent.
Other major companies switching to freelancers gradually include the Bank of America, Verizon, and FedEx.
3. Around 34% of the workforce were somehow involved in the gig economy pre-pandemic.
The number of freelancers in the US is around 57 million. These are Americans who work in the gig industry, be it as a primary source of income or as a side project to their full-time jobs.
Most of the gig hires spend anywhere between 11 to 30 hours a week working on their projects.
4. The gig economy’s growth was projected to be growing three times faster than the traditional workforce.
Gig economy facts show that about 47% of working millennials now say they are freelancers in some capacity. This shows the popularity of the gig economy will grow in the coming years.
Several freelance statistics suggest that 29% of the freelancers said their businesses are their only income source. This percentage has increased from about 17% in 2014, which again shows the growth in this industry. These figures show that people prefer mobility and the freedom to choose their projects.
5. Over 50% of full-time gig workers felt more financially secure than those with traditional jobs in 2019.
Financial security is one of the deciding factors in many scenarios. Gig economy statistics show that over half of the freelancers feel more secure in their finances than they would if they were doing more traditional jobs.
This could be because they can choose between work projects and determine their own rates.
6. Freelancers in the United States added about $1.28 trillion to the gig economy in 2018.
These gig economy statistics consider full-time independent workers. The added value stood at $1.28 trillion, which is almost as much as the GDP of a smaller country like Spain.
This goes to prove how many Americans engage in and patronize freelancers as they contribute a sizable amount to the economy of the country.
How COVID–19 Affected Gig Economy Trends in 2021
As the industry thriving from its flexibility, it might seem counterintuitive that—in an era of lockdowns—it suffered as equally as any other job market.
With the overall economy undergoing a collapse, it affected every worker’s opportunity to earn money, with so many businesses forced to close.
7. The number of employed independents decreased by seven percent after the outbreak.
With 41.1 million independents having work by the end of 2019, only 38.2 million kept their working engagements after the pandemic took a toll on the economy, per gig worker statistics.
Those working independently full-time were hit even harder—11% of the gig economy workers who worked more than 15 hours a week and averaging around 35 were left without their arrangements.
8. There were 24.6 million part-time workers in the US in 2020.
Interestingly, there is quite a gender disparity when it comes to part-time employment—just over nine million men, as opposed to 15.5 million women. If we know that around 147.8 million of all Americans were in some sort of a working arrangement, the percentage of part-time workers is approximately 16.6%.
9. GigSmart reported an almost 25% growth in daily demand for their apps.
The exact growth was 24.94% in the US. But it’s not only the demand that has increased—so did the pay rates.
Before the outbreak, most workers earned $17.22 per hour on average, while an hourly rate grew to $21.97 during the pandemic across the GigSmart apps.
10. The United States workforce statistics show that gig drivers working for the likes of Uber and Lyft reported a 65% decrease in income.
Similarly, all the way in Indonesia, Gojek moto-taxi drivers disclaimed that there was a 70% drop in their earnings.
This isn’t a surprising development when it comes to platforms that—in a period of a global lockdown—depend heavily on people needing transportation services.
Some sectors, such as beauty, grooming, domestic services, etc., were all hit harder, with their businesses being suspended indefinitely as the outbreak occurred.
11. Gig economy income statistics show wages and participation have grown by 33% in 2020.
The entire gig workforce has earned $1.7 trillion—a significant increase from $1.2 trillion before the pandemic in 2019.
In addition, 78% of participants reportedly plan to do the same or more gig work in 2021. This is interesting, as 63% of gig workers have a full-time job, indicating they do this for the additional stream of income.
Gig Economy Stats—Workers’ Opinions
It’s true that many gig workers have another full-time job and do gigs for additional income. However, a lot of the people want to transition to doing it full-time, as opposed to holding on to their traditional jobs. Let’s hear what the workers have to say.
12. Around 85% of all gig workers reportedly earn less than $500 a month.
The average gig pay for almost a half of Airbnb hosts is more than $500 on a monthly basis. They also make nearly three times more than any other gig worker.
Interestingly, Lyft and Uber drivers have the same average income; however, those who work on both platforms earn more from Uber gigs.
13. 70% of freelancers cite a better work-life balance as the reason they choose the gig economy.
According to freelancers, the ability to have a suitable work-life balance is the main reason for choosing the gig economy. These gig economy stats also show that 62% of them cited being able to determine when they work as another deciding factor.
Other factors include but are not limited to better productivity, avoiding distractions, health, and family concerns.
14. 93% of gig workers with a college degree agree that relevant skill training is vital to their work at the moment.
Freelancers typically put greater emphasis on skills training. About 93% of the freelancers with college degrees say work training is most useful for them. In reality, only 70% of gig workers took part in some form of training compared to just 49% of non-freelance full-time workers.
Gig economy statistics also show that only 79% of respondents believe that their higher education was useful for their current work.
15. One in six conventional workers will decide to become an independent earner.
Through their study of Independent Employment, Mckinsey found that one out of six conventional employees would like to move to the self-employed if given a chance. Based on this gig economy research, it can be determined that freelance gigs are growing in popularity.
In absolute figures, this category in the United States and the EU-15 amounts to a total of 42 million people. In reality, more than two conventional workers hope to become gig workers for every primary independent worker who would prefer a traditional job.
How Important Is Technology To Gig Economy Workers in 2021?
This should be clear from the start. There is hardly any job searching process—be it related to traditional employment or gigs—that doesn’t involve technology today.
16. 53% of those between 18-29 in the US use the help of their smartphones to get a job.
This statistic has a direct effect on the gig economy. This is because most gig economy jobs can be done from home.
So, the increased use of mobile phones by young adults will lead to a higher number of freelancers. For the entire population of adults in the U.S, only 28% use their smartphones to get jobs.
17. About three out of four gig workers say technology makes their work easier to find.
Freelance workforce statistics show that 75% of freelancers believe that platforms like Upwork and Fiverr made their work-life easier. Not only can they choose projects on their own, but they can also showcase their previous ones.
18. Over 70% of gig workers get their jobs from freelancer websites.
It’s hardly a surprise that the global gig economy is mainly internet-based. Reports from Payoneer Income Report show that more than 70% of the gig workers find work on platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Toptal.
Global Gig Economy Statistics
Going beyond the US—the biggest gig economy market in the world at the moment—an upward trend is apparent almost everywhere.
19. In developing countries, the use of gig platforms has increased by over 30%.
These figures can be pretty useful for employers that are searching for freelancers.
Countries with developed economies report only about 1–4% of gig workers gig working platforms, though.
20. Gig economy statistics indicate that India has emerged as the fifth largest gig economy market in 2021.
This puts India behind the US, China, Brazil, and Japan. At the moment, the country counts around three million gig workers. It gets even more interesting—some reporting projects this number to double by the end of the year, to a total of six million Indians being a part of the gig economy.
21. The gig economy in the United Kingdom doubled in size from 2016 to 2019.
Like other developed economies, the United Kingdom is also at the forefront of the gig economy. With a gig workforce of about 4.7 million people in 2019, according to the latest gig economy statistics, the contract-based jobs in the UK are almost certain to grow above those figures in 2021.
22. Almost half of the gig workers in Australia spend less than five hours on their gig projects per week.
More surprisingly, only 5.4% reportedly work for more than 26 hours weekly, which, of course, doesn’t even come close to what’s considered a full-time job.
These figures underline one simple fact—most gig workers do it just for an additional income stream. Gig economy statistics indicate that 15.4% don’t earn enough to meet their basic needs from their gigs in Australia.
23. 45% of women aged 18–24 in Canada have been a part of the gig economy in the last five years.
Similarly, 42% of men from the same age group claimed they worked on gig projects in the same period. When it comes to the age brackets that participate the least in the gig economy, statistics show to Canadians older than 55 make the smallest portion—24% of women and 29% of women.
It’s essential to disclaim that these are all pre-pandemic numbers from a 2019 research.
Rise of the Gig Economy—What the Future Holds
The gig economy doesn’t seem to be going away, even if it’s been affected by COVID-19 as any other form of employment. However, the consequences seem to be short-term, and the gig economy will likely continue the pre-pandemic growth trend.
24. The gig economy is expected to reach a worth of $455.2 billion in the US in 2023.
The projected gig economy size—in terms of gross volume—for 2021 is $347.1 billion.
While the forecast figures aren’t likely to be met in the nearest future, the gig economy will likely be back to its projected trends sooner than any other form of employment once the pandemic is over; these numbers can still give us some sense of the upcoming situation.
25. 80% of major US companies are planning to switch to employing freelance labor.
This data is according to the Intuit 2020 study on the future of gig employment. A number of gig economy articles show that over 80% of major US-based companies would significantly increase their use of non-traditional jobs in the years to come.
Maybe one day freelancing work will surpass traditional jobs.
26. 40% of companies see gig workers taking a more significant part of their workforce in the coming years.
Gig economy trends show that more businesses will be open to the idea of gig workers in the coming years. While this development is a significant advantage to gig workers, it can be risky for workers with a limited or defined skill set.
Especially those in developing countries.
27. Gig workers in the field of artificial intelligence earn an average of $115.06 per hour.
These freelance workforce statistics place artificial intelligence as by far the highest-earning industry for gig workers. Other sectors on the list include blockchain architecture which earns about $87.05 for every hour, and robotics earning $77.46 for every hour.
The others on the list are cryptocurrencies, Lambda coding for Amazon Web services, and virtual reality at rates of $65.37, $51, and $50.18 per hour, respectively.
Gig Economy Statistics—The Takeaway
It’s clear that there is a significantly reduced skepticism towards the gig jobs. With enormous enterprises, such as Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb taking over the market from traditionally organized companies.
The entire arrangement can be extremely beneficial to both parties. Companies can find an adequate candidate for each of their projects more easily. On the other hand, gig workers get to pick their work environment and projects they are best suited for, as well as be in charge of their own schedule.
It’s likely that the gig economy will influence the workforce landscape in a highly consequential way not that far in the future.