Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
2020 was a crushing year for formal employment. American unemployment reached 14% during the worst months of the pandemic, and formal work was scarce. Unable to rely on savings and government benefits alone, 12% of the US workforce picked up gig work for the first time to supplement their incomes. Partially as a result of these conditions, the gig economy grew 33% in 2020. That’s over 8 times faster than the US economy as a whole!
COVID-19 hardships did not invent gig work, but they did accelerate existing trends. In the last 6 years, the gig economy has doubled in size. Over a billion people worldwide are gig workers; 55 million gig workers live in the US. By 2027, almost half of the US population will have engaged in gig work.
While delivery services like DoorDash and Instacart are the most well-known forms of gig work, gig work can include many different jobs. Home and auto repair, babysitting, disc jockeying, and dog walking are all examples of gig jobs. The main differences between gig work and formal employment are the flexibility in hours, project-based nature of work, and relative openness to all who want to partake in the market. Gig work has fewer barriers to entry than formal employment, meaning high school grads have a chance of making as much as someone with a college degree.
The reason unemployed people may turn to gig work is obvious. Yet as the formal employment sector recovers, some workers may choose to remain gig workers. Why is this the case? There are several reasons. 58% of gig workers work less than 30 hours a week. Many gig workers make a living wage from their gigs alone; full time delivery drivers make almost $50,000 a year. For those worried about the instability of gig work, experienced freelancers offer a refreshing perspective. 65% of them believe a diverse clientele provides more job security than a full time job. If one client cancels on a gig worker, they lose part of their income. If one manager fires a full-time worker, that worker loses all or most of their income.
If you think gig work might be for you, build your profile on a specialized online job board. Build your profile and take a variety of gigs before specializing in one type of service. Flexible work starts with being flexible yourself. Learn more about the gig world in the following infographic.
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked