The gig economy might sound like something new, but it really isn’t. Freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, and contract workers have played an integral role in the economy for decades. They find clients, work on short-term and long-term projects, and often run their own businesses as self-employed professionals.
However, the gig economy has been growing dramatically in recent years, thanks to technology giving people access to a wider range of gigs that they can do from remote, and thanks to companies of all sizes that are hiring contractors to work on diverse projects. This allows more people to find gigs, and it also provides more flexibility, whether they are seeking full-time opportunities or they just want a side hustle to make extra money.
Below is a list of some gig economy statistics that help shed light on what this free market system has to offer.
- In the United States, roughly 57 million people (35% of the workforce in the country) worked as freelancers in 2019.(4)
- Nearly $1 trillion in income is contributed to the economy each year by freelancers. That’s roughly 5% of GDP.(4)
- 33% of businesses use gig workers.(1)
- Since 2010, the share of gig workers at businesses in the United States grew 15%. And there are roughly 6 million more of these workers than there were 10 years ago.(9)
- More than half of freelancers would not want to go back to traditional employment, regardless of how much income those jobs offered.(10)
A Primary Source of Income
The gig economy isn’t only used by those who need to make some extra money. Instead, many people are turning to this type of work to earn a full-time income.
- 44% of people working in the gig economy use it as their primary source of income.(1)
- 53% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 who work in the gig economy use it as their primary income source.(1)
- More than half of full-time freelancers state that they are more financially secure than they would be if they were working in a traditional job.(10)
The Need for Skilled Services
Gig workers don’t only perform tasks like driving or making deliveries. Working in a range of industries and for a variety of clients, they are talented individuals who have technical and creative skills that are in demand.
- 45% of freelancers provide valuable skills that include consulting, marketing, and programming.(4)
- More than 80% of large corporations plan to increase the use of a flexible workforce.(7)
- There are roughly 170 gig economy businesses in the United States.(6)
- Among skilled freelancers, the median hourly rate is $28, compared to a median hourly rate of $20 for freelancers overall.(4)
Beyond the United States: Gig Workers Are Found All Over the World
The United States isn’t the only country in the world that has seen a rise in the number of workers who have embraced the gig economy. Other countries across the globe are also experiencing a shift towards independent work.
- In Australia, workers find gigs on more than 100 platforms, with the most popular being Airtasker, Uber, Freelancers, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo. And more than 1/3 of them use multiple platforms.(2)
- Roughly 7% of working people in Australia use the gig economy to find jobs.(3)
- From 2016 to 2019, the United Kingdom’s gig economy doubled in size.(6)
- Gig platform use has increased by more than 30% in developing countries.(6)
- 97% of people in Mexico and India are open to gig work, such as freelance, temporary, and contract work.
More People Want to Work Independently
Statistics show that more people are choosing to work in the gig economy. Over the last several years, the number of gig workers has grown, and the expectation is that those numbers will continue to increase in the coming years as well.
- The number of freelancers in the United States is expected to grow, and experts estimate that, by 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing.(1)
- In 2014, the share of full-time freelancers was 17%. That increased to 28% in 2019.(4)
- 53 million people freelanced in 2014, compared to 57 million people in 2019.(5)
- 60% of people who freelance state that they got into the gig economy by choice.(2)
- 64% of freelancers want to remain independent rather than go back to a traditional workplace.(10)
Younger people are more likely to start working as freelancers. However, workers from all generations can be found throughout the gig economy.
- 53% of Gen Z’ers freelance.(5)
- 40% of Millennials freelance.(5)
- 31% of Gen Xers freelance.(5)
- 29% of Baby Boomers freelance.(5)
The Many Reasons Why People Choose Freelancing and Gig Work
Even though some people might turn to gig work when they are unable to find and land traditional jobs, there are many people who are leaving traditional work for freelance work. There are also plenty of reasons why more and more people are opting to work as freelancers, and why they don’t plan on leaving the gig economy.
- 71% of freelancers say they can work from anywhere. And 7 in 10 freelancers have an interest in moving somewhere other than a large city.(4)
- 46% of people who freelance state that they like the flexibility, which they can’t get in traditional workplaces as employees.(4)
- Part-time freelancers like using the gig economy to make extra income.(4)
- 70% of people who freelance find that they have a better work-life balance, and that’s the reason why they opt to work in the gig economy.(6)
Similarities with Non-Freelancers
When it comes to areas of concern, freelancers and non-freelancers feel similarly about issues that impact their lives.
- Both freelancers and non-freelancers are concerned about the following issues: access to affordable healthcare, being able to save enough money, being paid a fair rate, saving for retirement.(4)
- While freelancers are concerned about unpredictable income, non-freelancers are concerned about high taxation rates.(4)
- 83% of people who freelance full-time have health insurance.(4)
- About 2/3 of freelancers prefer to take home more pay and buy their own benefits, rather than take home less pay and have an employer or client cover their benefits.(4)
Overall, statistics show that those who are working in the gig economy in various capacities are content and satisfied, and many of them prefer it to traditional work so much that they wouldn’t want to give up their gig work. And, for individuals who wish to run a business as self-employed professionals, having access to gigs via online platforms gives them an opportunity to pursue their aspirations.