While the pandemic decimated traditional employment in many sectors, the gig economy grew over 8 times faster than the US economy. Without traditional job options to turn to, 2 million Americans tried gig work for the first time in 2020. What may be a stopgap measure for some could hold a promising future for others.
Gig work was not invented during the pandemic. The most famous gig jobs in delivery service (such as Uber driving or DoorDash service) have existed for years. Over the last 6 years, the gig economy has doubled to include over 1 billion workers worldwide. The pandemic sped up trends that already existed, making the writing on the wall clearer than before. After seeing the gig economy function on a massive scale, 4 in 5 US companies are planning to increase their use of gig workers. 50% of organizations have already done so.
What does this mean for workers? Can the gig economy provide a living wage? In many cases, the answer is yes. Full time delivery drivers make almost $50,000 a year. In other sectors like construction, disc jockeying, and car repair, gig workers may even make more than traditionally employed peers. Furthermore, gig workers have more flexibility in choosing their hours and projects than workers in traditional employment might. 58% of gig workers work less than 30 hours a week, and these hours are set largely on the worker’s terms. Freelance will play an important role in post-pandemic recovery.
Breaking into the gig economy doesn’t have to be difficult. The first step to getting flexible work is being flexible yourself. Try a wide range of gigs before specializing in one or a few services you provide. Learn more about the services demanded in your area and cultivate a profile on gig job boards.