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30 Impressive Gig Economy Statistics

by Darko Jacimovic

Welcome to our article on gig economy statistics, where we discuss those working remotely and their impact on the world around us.

Gig workers have always been a major part of the workforce and the economy. Truck drivers, musicians, content writers, photographers, developers, and all others whose income is project-to-project dependent can be included in this category. 

Let’s learn more about them with the help of the 30 incredible statistics listed below:

The 10 Key Gig Economy Statistics

  • 36% of US workers are involved in the gig economy.
  • 64 million people in Europe and the US are part-time contingent workers.
  • Gig workers contributed $1.28 trillion to the US economy in 2018.
  • The average freelancer earns $19 per hour.
  • 40% of freelancers worry about not being able to retire comfortably.
  • 90% of freelancers plan on working remotely for the rest of their career.
  • 43% of workers in the US are expected to be involved in the gig economy next year.
  • 40% of companies believe they’ll increase the number of gig workers in their workforce.
  • Just 20% of freelancers would prefer full-time employment.
  • 1-4% of workers in mature economies rely on gig platforms to find work.

How Big is the Gig Economy?

gig economy statistics - working

1. Gig workers accounted for around 10% of the US workforce in 2005.

(Forbes)

14 years ago, gig workers made just 10.1% of the US workforce. A decade later, in 2015, that figure rose to 15.8%. Nowadays, we’re looking at much higher numbers.

2. 36% of US workers are involved in the gig economy.

(Gallup, Nation 1099)

Over a third of the US workforce is involved in gig work to some extent, data on the gig economy in 2019 shows. While some of them get into this line of work to supplement the income from their full or part-time jobs, the majority are fully reliant on freelancing as their primary income source. As many as 162 million American and European workers dabble in freelancing.

3. 40% of the contingent workers in Europe and the US are part-time gig workers.

(Nation 1099)

The percentage of part-time workers involved in the gig economy is high; around 40% of all freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, and other outsourced workers in Europe and the US are doing this type of work part-time to supplement their primary source of income. This amounts to 64 million people.

4. Gig workers contributed $1.28 trillion to the US economy in 2018.

(MBO partnersWorld Economic Forum, Visual Capitalist)

Gig workers contributed just under $1.3 trillion to the economy last year. To put this into perspective, here is how much some countries contribute to the global economy:

  • US: $20.49 trillion
  • Canada: $1.71 trillion
  • Russia: $1.66 trillion
  • Mexico: $1.22 trillion
  • Sweden: $0.55 trillion

5. The number of gig workers is growing three times faster than the number of other workers in the US workforce.

(Forbes)

The gig economy size has been fluctuating over the last decade or so. In 2015, the number of freelancers in the US grew by just 1.3%. Two years later, it increased by 4.2%. Today, estimates show that the gig economy’s expansion exceeds the growth of the US workforce by an astonishing 300%.

6. The average pay for freelancers is $19 per hour.

(Inc.)

According to a global survey that included 21,000 freelancers from 170 countries, the average hourly rate for freelancers is $19. Rates typically go between $11 and $28, while over 50% charge less than $15 per hour for their service.

Freelance Economy Statistics

gig economy statistics - freelance

7. 40% of freelancers worry about not being able to retire comfortably.

(Forbes)

Working on a project-to-project basis has its drawbacks. One of the main ones is that job security is not really a thing with freelancing; a freelancer might work on 30 projects one month and then have no work available the next. This is why so many of them worry about not being able to retire.

8. 28% of remote workers earn under $25,000 in a year.

(buffer Stories)

Gig economy stats find that the largest part of remote workers make less than $25,000 per year. This average is dragged down significantly by freelancers from developing countries who are paid significantly less than their peers in the US. Here are some more percentages related to remote workers’ pay:

  • 18% of remote workers earn between $25,000 and $50,000.
  • 19% earn between $50,000 and $75,000.
  • 14% earn between $75,000 and $100,000.
  • 8% earn between $100,000 and $125,000.
  • 13% earn more than $125,000.

9. 90% of freelancers plan on working remotely for the rest of their career.

(buffer Stories)

According to a global gig economy survey that included more than 1,900 remote workers, just 10% of freelancers are not counting on remote work as a long-run option. Additionally, 94% of the respondents stated they encourage others to pursue this type of work.

10. 61% of freelancers would move for a tax break of less than $5,000.

(Upwork)

According to the fifth annual Freelancing in America study (2018), almost two-thirds of full-time freelancers would consider moving to a different city if that move came with a tax break. The gig economy trends for 2018 study also mentioned that 51% of freelancers say there’s no offer high enough for them to take a traditional job, which shows that it’s not all about the money.

11. 53% of freelancers list cost as the main barrier to improving their skills.

(Upwork, FreeTrain)

Those working in traditional jobs can expect their employer to pay for job training. 93% of college-educated freelancers say training is useful for their career. However, gig economy statistics show the cost of training is an obstacle for the majority of freelancers.

12. American freelancers work more than one billion hours per week.

(FreeTrain)

Since 2015, freelancers from the US picked up their pace, which probably comes from the growth in numbers. As a result, they’ve increased their weekly working hours by 72 million. Today, 64% of freelancers find work online, while just 42% did the same in 2014.

Gig Economy Trends

gig economy statistics - room

13. By 2020, 43% of US workers are expected to be involved in the gig economy.

(Forbes)

We’ve already learned that over a third of the US workforce is involved in the gig economy today. Just a few months from now, when the data for 2020 is published, we can expect to see a significant increase in the percentage of freelancers and gig workers.

14. 35% of companies say that 91-99% of their workers work remotely.

(buffer Stories)

Freelance workforce statistics show companies across the US are using the remote worker market to their benefit. Small business statistics indicate that 39% of companies that use freelancers have less than 25 employees. It is obvious that small businesses use remote workers as a cheaper option when starting.

15. 40% of companies predict the number of gig workers in their workforce will increase.

(Forbes)

Gig workers can come cheap, especially when outsourced from developing countries. Hiring a freelancer from the US can also cost less than hiring a full-time worker. This is why so many companies plan to include more gig workers in their workforce. Keep in mind that the term gig worker includes everyone working on a project-to-project basis, from uber drivers to writers, photographers to consultants.

16. Google’s partnering staffing companies are required to pay contract workers a minimum of $15 per hour.

(AP)

Gig economy trends confirm an even brighter future lies ahead for gig workers. Google is one of the companies paving the way for the future by providing contract workers with a minimum wage of $15 per hour, health benefits, 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and tuition reimbursement for skill development ($5,000 per year).

17. There are no more penalties for freelancers who have no health insurance.

(Vice, Ben Henry-Moreland, Nasdaq)

In 2016, all US freelancers and gig workers were required to have health insurance. Those without one were facing a penalty equal to 2.5% of their income or $695, whichever was greater. Considering the number of part-time workers in the US who freelance and couldn’t find this feasible, the penalty was brought to zero. Freelancers and gig workers have been eligible for Obamacare since 2017.

18. 90% of freelancers believe freelancing’s heydays are yet to come.

(LinkedIn SlideShare)

When asked about the future of freelancing and gig working, 90% of those in the business agree that the next few years will be even brighter and that remote work hasn’t reached its full potential yet.

Interesting Freelancing and Gig Economy Statistics

gig economy statistics - photo

19. 78% of gig workers choose their home as their preferred workplace.

(buffer Stories)

Working remotely has numerous benefits, one of the main ones being the fact that remote workers can, in most cases, work from wherever they feel most comfortable. Here’s where they choose to work from:

  • 78% of remote workers primarily work from home.
  • 9% primarily work from the office.
  • 7% primarily work from a coworking space.
  • 5% primarily work from a cafe.
  • 1% choose other spots.

20. 43% of freelancers agree a flexible schedule is the biggest advantage of this type of work.

(buffer Stories)

Freelancer statistics note that the majority of freelancers and remote workers consider flexible working hours to be the biggest advantage of working remotely. Here are some other commonly listed benefits:

  • Spending time with family
  • Ability to travel
  • Working from home
  • Avoiding office drama and politics
  • Ability to exercise regularly

21. 21% of freelancers agree that loneliness is the biggest disadvantage of this type of work.

(buffer Stories)

More than a fifth of remote workers and freelancers agree that loneliness is the biggest disadvantage of working remotely, gig economy statistics derived from 2018 surveys state. Other commonly listed disadvantages include:

  • Difficulties with communication and collaboration
  • Distractions around the house
  • Motivation issues
  • Timezone difficulties
  • Finding a reliable internet connection (especially when traveling)

22. 22% of remote workers take 11-15 days of vacation per year.

(buffer Stories)

According to remote work statistics, remote workers typically take more time off than their peers in traditional jobs. Freelance workforce statistics show the following numbers:

  • 22% of remote workers take 11-15 vacation days.
  • 17% take 6-10 vacation days.
  • 16% take 0-5 vacation days.
  • 14% take 16-20 vacation days.
  • 12% take 21-25 vacation days.
  • 8% take 26-30 vacation days.
  • 11% take more than 30 vacation days per year.

23. Just 20% of freelancers would prefer to be employed full time.

(Forbes)

Gig economy trends indicate that the majority of freelancers would rather stick with their current work option than move to a full-time job. In case their financial state went south, 45% of freelancers could acquire new clients in order to remedy the situation.

24. Between 1 and 4% of workers in mature economies rely on gig platforms.

(Forbes)

Gig platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork are not so popular in mature economies like the US. The number of freelancers in the US who rely on these platforms is neglectable due to high fees and the freelancers’ ability to find work elsewhere. However, for emerging economies, the use of gig platforms is on a boon. It is estimated that 30% of freelancers from these economies use gig platforms.

Upwork Statistics and Facts

gig economy statistics - computer

25. Upwork has around 12 million registered freelancers.

(Techlist, Wikipedia)

Upwork is one of the most popular gig platforms available, used by millions of freelancers from around the world. The number of freelancers is double that of clients; estimates show that there are around 5 million clients on Upwork posting 3 million jobs per year. Gig economy research discovered that the total value of the jobs posted on Upwork is $1 billion, which makes it the largest gig market in the world.

26. Upwork generated over $40 million from US freelancers in 2018.

(statista, Upwork)

In 2018, Upwork generated $163 million in revenue from freelancers around the world. Almost 25% of that revenue came from US freelancers. Freelancers from India were responsible for generating $25.7 million, their peers from the Philippines generated $17 million, and freelancers from the rest of the world were responsible for the remaining $81 million in revenue.

27. Upwork is expected to reach $299-304 million in revenue in 2019.

(Upwork)

During the first quarter of 2019, Upwork increased its revenue by 16% compared to the same period of 2018, making a profit of $47.8 million, gig economy trends for 2019 point out. It remains to be seen whether the changes in how Upwork connects work will harm the projected profits for 2019.

28. Upwork now charges $0.15 per connect.

(Entrepreneur)

The times of receiving 60 free connects every month are gone for those freelancing on Upwork. In addition to charging a 20% commission per payment, Upwork now charges $0.15 per connect. Freelancers need between one and six connects to apply for a job, depending on the demand. This move is expected to harm the company’s popularity among freelancers, as well as its profits.

29. ServiceNow is the fastest-growing skill on Upwork.

(Upwork)

ServiceNow,  the digital workflow solution, was the fastest-growing skill on Upwork during Q2 2019. Gig economy trends issued by the company list the following skills as the most desirable ones to have for Upwork freelancers:

  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Social Video Marketing
  • Highcharts
  • PyTorch
  • Keras

30. 75% of the hottest skills on Upwork are new to the index.

(Upwork)

Learning and development is becoming an increasingly popular category on Upwork. Robotic process automation, computer-aided manufacturing, and similar skills are seeing a significant demand on the platform. The popularity of Blockchain, which has been one of the top skills to have for a few years, is now dropping, Upwork freelance statistics show.

Conclusion

As long as it remains cheaper for employers, hiring gig workers will remain popular. 

And now that we’ve discussed the good and the bad side of remote work, we can safely conclude that, as with everything else in life, it is not for everyone. The gig economy statistics listed in this text are meant to show those who are thinking about joining the gig work movement that it’s not perfect – but it can get pretty close.

Sources:

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