Picture a fairly average Saturday: You wake up in your rented Airbnb, make breakfast, and hail an Uber to do some exploring. You head back “home” but are wiped out, so you order some dinner through your Postmates app. Easy as 1, 2, 3. Before you check out the next day, you worry about losing your deposit — so you hire a TaskRabbit to tidy up while you call a Lyft back to your apartment.
After just one regular day, a person could theoretically have interacted with five or more different companies powered by one fast-growing portion of our workforce: gig workers. Fueled by companies like the ones mentioned above — and many more — the gig economy is matching app-happy consumers with a burgeoning group of workers using gig-style jobs as a side hustle, or even a full-time career. Now, according to data from Jobvite says 19 percent of American adults say they’ve held a gig-type job.
Who are these ‘gig workers’?
How will they impact the future of our country’s labor force? For starters, they’re young. Twenty-five percent of millennials surveyed have worked a gig job, while even more (31 percent) of 30-40 year olds have. It makes sense: those tech-savvy generations in-between jobs or taking a break from the lifelong career grind can now find lucrative opportunities straight from their mobile devices.
These gig workers are also predominantly men. Twenty-two percent of men surveyed have held a gig job, while only 13 percent of women have. They typically reside in large metro areas in the West (24 percent) and the Northeast (26 percent).
From gig to career
Perhaps most importantly, though, gig workers are turning these side jobs into actual careers — and they’re happy about it. Over 55 percent of those who have held gig jobs considered it their full-time job (versus the 36 percent who considered it part-time), and Time, Burson-Marsteller, and the Aspen Institute report that 71 percent of gig workers love working in the industry. Even more, they even feel optimistic about its future: 64 percent believe they will fare better financially in the coming year.
One thing’s for sure — the gig economy is a different type of workforce, one that enables workers to work where, when, and if they want to. Today’s job seekers already job hop almost constantly, and the gig economy doesn’t pretend to command the faithfulness that has characterized the U.S. job market for decades. There’s less formality and more flexibility, and as the on-demand economy continues to flourish on the consumer end, this style of work will only grow in popularity and desirability from the workforce as well.
But with this new economy comes intense competition — between on-demand companies and their gig workers. These companies will be racing to innovate, to come up with the “next big idea” that consumers won’t be able to live without. As we get more and more comfortable (and reliant on) this on-demand lifestyle, we’ll need an even greater population of gig workers to supplement the great appetite for it. And not every company will survive.
There’s no denying that the way we’ve traditionally understood work is now changing — and our society as a whole is evolving along with it. How the gig economy may affect you, your career, or your company will differ, but next time you’re impatiently waiting for an Uber, appreciate the transformative time we’re living in.
About the author: Amanda Van Nuys is Sr. Director of Marketing Communications at Jobvite.