How The Global Pandemic Accelerated The Gig Economy

How The Global Pandemic Accelerated The Gig Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic had far reaching effects on the US economy. At its worst, 14% of Americans were formally unemployed. Traditional employment was not creating the necessary number of jobs due to lockdowns and future uncertainty. Unable to survive only on savings and government benefits, 2 million Americans tried their hand at gig work for the first time. Some delivered for Uber Eats while others began a phone repair business. While this turn to freelance may have been temporary for some, others have committed to a permanent change in their lifestyle.

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The Growth In Gig Economy

The pandemic accelerated the trend towards gig work faster than anyone anticipated. In 2020 alone, the gig economy grew 33%, expanding 8.25 times faster than the US economy as a whole. Over a billion gig workers operate worldwide, and 55 million of them live in the United States. By 2027, almost half the population will have engaged in gig work at some point.

As alluded to before, gig work goes beyond its most ubiquitous occupations. Uber drivers and Instacart shoppers are included, but so too are disc jockeys, personal trainers, dog walkers, and event photographers. Gig work produces almost 6% of the US GDP at this point in time. As lockdowns ease and discretionary spending picks up once more, freelance will play an important role in post-pandemic recovery.

Why might some workers choose gig work over formal employment? While gig work is not for everybody, it does come with its own set of benefits. Flexible employment allows workers to largely set their own hours. 58% of gig workers work less than 30 hours a week. Gig jobs tend to have fewer barriers to entry than formal employment would, meaning high school grads can earn just as much as degree holders. Income can be variable depending on completed projects and number of clients, but gig workers are more than capable of earning a living wage in their chosen profession. For example, full time delivery drivers make almost $50,000 a year.

Global Pandemic Accelerated The Gig Economy


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