The gig economy and its growing impact on the American workforce
- 29% of US workers within the gig economy have an alternative work arrangement as their primary job.
- The statement ‘paid timely and accurately’ was the only workplace arrangement in which a higher percentage of traditional workers agreed that traditional employment worked to their benefit with 82%, versus 61% of gig workers.
- The largest disparity between traditional and gig workers, unsurprisingly, was their satisfaction with job flexibility (27% traditional and 57% gig workers) - a difference of 30%.
According to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.5 million people in the US have ‘alternative work arrangements’, and in 2017 they also reported that around 55 million participate in the gig economy; estimated to be 43% of the US workforce by 2020.
The gig economy is broadly defined as ‘alternative work arrangements’ – ranging from independent contractors to those who work as freelancers or with online companies such as Uber.
Accelerated by the digital revolution, the emergence of smart technology and the convenience of working wherever and whenever you choose - it is no surprise that the gig economy has snowballed into a multi-trillion-dollar global market.
As a result, training and qualification provider TheKnowledgeAcademy.com sought to uncover the costs and benefits of the gig economy, specifically independent gig workers (freelancers and online platform workers), through an analysis of findings from Gallup’s report ‘The Gig Economy and Alternative Work Arrangements’ revealing who is most satisfied at work, using a variety of qualifying statements.
According to the report, 29% of US workers have an alternative work arrangement as their primary source of income; perhaps unsurprising considering 36% of all US workers participate in the gig economy in some capacity including part timers and multiple job holders.
But how does the employee satisfaction of independent gig work compare to those in traditional roles?
Interestingly, the statement ‘paid timely and accurately’ was the only workplace arrangement in which a higher percentage of traditional workers agreed that traditional employment worked to their benefit with 82%, versus 61% of gig workers.
Thereafter the largest disparity between alternative and traditional workers is their satisfaction with flexibility. Boasting a percentage difference of 30%, only 27% of traditional workers agreed that their job is ‘flexible’, in comparison to more than half of gig workers (57%).
The following work arrangements also showed notable percentage differences, identifying the work arrangements independent gig workers regard more highly than traditional workers: ‘Autonomy & authority’: 34% of traditional workers vs. 57% of gig workers (23% difference). ‘Shared goal setting’: 27% of traditional workers vs. 46% of gig workers (19% difference). ‘Belonging in my workplace’: 34% of traditional workers vs. 50% of gig workers (16% difference). ‘Paid fairly’: 29% of traditional workers vs. 43% of gig workers (14% difference). ‘Healthy work/life balance’: 29% of traditional workers vs. 34% of gig workers (14% difference). Overall, 71% of traditional workers state they are doing their preferred job, in comparison with 64% of gig workers. However, the majority still claim gig work is their preference.
*The results are based on a Gallup Panel web study completed by 5,025 working adults, aged 18 and older. The sample for this study was weighted to be demographically representative of the U.S. adult population, using 2017 Population Survey figures.