How Big Is the Gig Economy?

Date posted: February 27, 2017


The Gig Economy is still going strong.

By Rieva Lesonsky

While most people are no longer buzzing about the Gig Economy, that doesn’t mean it’s going away anytime soon. In fact, a report late last year from the Pew Research Center reveals 25 percent of Americans earned money working in the Gig Economy.

As Pew points out, working a side job while being employed elsewhere is certainly not new. But the report says technology, in the form of “apps and online platforms,” has made it a lot easier for consumers and gig workers to connect.

The survey shows 8 percent of Americans earned some money in the last year using digital platforms, while 18 percent sold something online to make money.

These activities are not limited to one particular demographic, either, though the bulk of those who sold stuff online were younger. (Specifically, 23 percent of people aged 18-29 sold items online, as did 27 percent of those aged 30-49.)

Pew further delineates between different platforms of the Gig Economy. In the “labor” platform, people contribute time and effort (such as driving for Uber); in the “capital” platform, they contribute goods or possession (such as selling on eBay or Etsy). Working in labor platforms is more prevalent among minorities, those with lower household incomes and the young; selling things is more common among white people, those with higher household incomes and the more educated. Not surprisingly, then, 56 percent of those who make money on labor platforms say the money they make is “important” and “essential,” while only 20 percent of those selling products feel the same way.

For startup entrepreneurs, hiring workers in the Gig Economy can help you get your business off the ground—and working in the Gig Economy can bring in some extra dollars while you wait for your venture to take off.

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