In just two years, gig workers are expected to outnumber traditional employees. Why is this shift happening and what does it mean for workers and companies alike? Gig work has been around for a long time, but it’s only been in the last few years that it has moved to the digital realm thanks to apps like TaskRabbit, Lyft, and more. Gig work can be used to earn additional income on top of an existing job or it can be used as a full-time position. Additionally, Gig work is especially popular with those who need flexible schedules, such as parents with small children or students. As the gig economy evolves, workers and companies alike will feel the shift.
The Origins Of The Gig Economy
Jazz musicians coined the term ‘gig’ to refer to performances, which are basically freelance jobs. During the Great Depression many farmers had to sell their land and become itinerant farmers because of 25% unemployment, which made finding steady work difficult. The industrial revolution and the postwar era brought greater economic stability as well as the 40 hour work week, but that was based on having a wife at home to take care of the free labor upon which such a system relies. By the mid to late 1940s, temporary agencies had been created to send day laborers out into the workforce wherever they were needed, and by 1995 10% of Americans worked in alternative employment.
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Gig Work Moves To The Web
As the internet grew so did the opportunities to use to for various purposes. Craigslist, Upwork, and Amazon Mechanical Turk all gave people access to jobs online. Then came apps like AirBNB, which allowed people to rent out rooms in their homes for extra income and Uber and Lyft, which gave people the opportunity to use their own vehicles to drive others around.
The Gig Economy Grows
Today, more than 1 in 3 Americans has engaged in gig work of one form or another. 30% do gig work as their primary source of income, 40% use gig work to earn a little extra cash, while 16% do it because they don’t have an alternative and 14% turn to gig work to make ends meet. People who use gig work to earn extra money earn an average of $1122 per month, using that cash to buy themselves a little more or pay for unexpected bills or expenses.
Learn more about the history and future of the gig economy below!