Employment in the gig economy is growing far faster than traditional payroll employment, by using a little known statistic, the researchers found evidence of a significant change in the numbers and the potential for a huge realignment in the very nature of employment.
Hop into an Uber in San Francisco, and you are likely to find that your driver is an out-of-work artist, bemoaning the difficulty of chasing the surge. The gig economy in the US is fraught and controversial: for every article lauding it, another piece complains; for every artist making a buck driving Uber, someone else is using Uber to transport cocaine.
But as the Uberization of all things spreads across the globe, what does this look like in developing countries? It turns out that in developing nations, platforms where freelancers can make money, the Ubers, Craigslist, and Postmates of overseas-may just be the next big driver of economic development.
Over the past 20 years, the number of gig economy workers- those who operate as independent contractors, often through apps- has increased by 27 percent more than payroll employees, according to CNBC calculations using data from the report. The change is even more severe in specific industries, like ground transportation, where the number of gig economy workers increased 44% more than payroll employees.
In short, misconceptions about the growth of the gig economy. While there is no doubt that alternative work arrangements have increased substantially over the past decade, the type of mechanisms that have improved are not the ones most commonly discussed by observers. More importantly, the reasons why these new forms of work have become more common appear to be different from what many pundits have argued. Data collected and carefully analyzed by academic researchers reveal that most of this growth comes from the more signifivant offline use of contract employees to find work for upper income, older members of the labor force.
Until the government designs more specific measures to track the growth of the gig economy, the Census' non-employer firms may be the best measure we have. But it has implications beyond measurements of employment. If the Bureau of LAbor Statistics included gig economy employment in its monthly jobs report, for example, it is possible the country's unemployment could appear lower, which could convince the Federal Reserve that the economy is stable enough for an interest rate hike.
It also changes an individual's relationship with employement. Health insurance, for example, has long been tied to employment status. Without an employer, more workers are dependent on health exchanges that were setup under the Affordable Care Act and could be jeopardized if that disappeared.
As technology advances, we are seeing more and more Uberization of workforce. With the pros of flexibility comes the cons of having less benefits, our society could see more effects of this in the upcoming decade.
Related: Gig Economy Trends
In actuality, nothing we call "new" is new in the economic world. The term "gig" itself has been around for a long time. Before the gig economy, it used to be commonly associated with actors, photographers, artists, and people working on contract. The definition of the term hasn't changed much. It is the scope that has exponentially expanded. The gig economy has become the direct result of digitalization as more sectors are not able to utilize freelance resources and more people are choosing to work as independent contractors. In many ways, the gig economy is a direct consequence, if not an extension, of entrepreneurism.
Therefore, by definition, the gig economy is an environment where better and more flexible economic opportunities are created through short-term engagements between organizations and workforce. The gig economy is not just the next big thing; it is an age-old giant that is suddenly having a growth spurt.
From the freelancer's point of view, the gig economy brings them more control over their work, life, and earnings. It is better for a mother to choose her own working hours delivering food or driving Lyft before picking the kid back up from school or dropping the kid at school. Since most gig economy are not picky for their freelancers, they are living a life without any fear of losing their jobs. Therefore, job and financial security is no longer a concern for the modern workforce.
For the last decade, entrepreneurship remained the economic champion. After two of the worst downturns in the history of global economy, people started to take matters into their own hands. However, there is only so much room for new businesses in any industry. As competition rises, so does the probability of failure for new ventures. We have seen the most lucrative of niches getting too saturated over the years, which is when the economic trend shifted toward gig economy.
As for the economy, it tends to move where employers and workforce are moving, but there are some apparent advantages it can gain from the gig culture. Short-term employment opportunities mean a higher number of opportunities over a given period, which in turn means more people will be able to earn. While it may or may not impact the employment rate, it is helping a lot of individuals to be more financially independent.
Gig economy trends to watch out for:
1. Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, Postmates, and other major players are going to continue to grow and become more powerful. On the one hand, this is good for drivers and hosts because with ubiquity will come more demand. On the other hand, as the players in the sharing economy become more monopolistic, expect to see the payouts shrink on a transactional basis, as these now large companies seek ways to increase their margins without putting off users' growth.
2. Expect to see a move towards small businesses being a focus of new gig economy service offerings.
3. Expect to see an enormous push towards hyperlocal offline needs, a continuation of what Uber started, but using small and smaller assets. We are starting to see bikes for Uber Eats and Postmates in San Francisco. We are wondering what is next!
In conclusion, we can say that the gig economy may be more than just a trend. It is an inevitable shift powered by changing trends, technology, and demands. It is growing and will keep growing until it evolved into yet another form.
Related: How to Win Your First Client as a Freelancer