Significant Gig Economy Statistics 2023: Get Ready For The Future of Work

Industry Trends

02 November, 2022

Significant Gig Economy Statistics 2023: Get Ready For The Future of Work

Karolina Kulach

Karolina Kulach

Senior Content Marketing Expert

These gig economy statistics will help your company prepare for the future of work.

The gig economy is one of the most important workforce transformations. If digital platform work continues to expand so rapidly, it can overtake the traditional job market. 

This has many implications for businesses that need to adapt to the new reality. Thus, get ready to hire more platform workers in 2023 and beyond.

In this article you’ll learn about:

  • Significant gig economy statistics and trends for 2023
  • Useful facts and data to help you better understand one of the biggest transformations in the world of work
  • The role of technology and automation
  • The future of the gig economy and what it means for businesses

Get ready for this new employment trend and get it right!

Get ready for the future of work! Plan 2023 with this HR Calendar and improve employee retention.

FREE Download: HR Calendar 2023

HR Calendar 2023 & HR Planner (pink)

Click the links below to go directly to the stats of your interest:

Gig economy statistics: the overall size
Gig economy statistics: demographics and salary-related stats
Gig economy statistics: benefits of platform work
Gig economy statistics: technology in digital platform work
Gig economy statistics: job security and healthcare
Gig economy statistics: trends and the future

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy allows companies to hire independent workers for short-term commitments: freelancers, independent contractors, part-time hires, project-based workers or other temporary workers. 

It’s also called digital platform work since digital platforms connect freelancers/gig workers with potential clients. 

Uber, the largest ride sharing company in the world, is a good example of a company employing gig workers (drivers). 

Other examples of gig economy jobs involve TaskRabbit workers, on-call workers, seasonal workers, Airbnb landlords, online marketplace sellers, influencers, and consultants.

Top gig economy platforms include: 

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • PeoplePerHour
  • Toptal 
  • Uber
  • Glovo 
  • Bolt

Digital platform work: the trend is unstoppable

The gig economy is getting bigger. In America, around a third of the working population is already in some gig capacity. The trend is going strong in the post-pandemic world.

In 2020, the gig economy experienced significant increases, mainly in response to COVID-19. This was the effect of significant job losses, but also the new independent work opportunities the pandemic created, e.g. virtual assistants in digital customer experience. 

The number of gig workers has gone up since the pandemic hit. 

The gig economy is expected to keep rising as in uncertain times, more and more workers are on the lookout for alternative incomes. Moreover, people are increasingly prioritizing lifestyle over earnings, which makes freelancing an attractive option.

From the employee perspective, the gig economy: 

  • Creates job opportunities, mostly due to the rising demand for delivery apps and services.
  • Offers alternatives for employees who don’t want to be stuck in 9-to-5 office jobs and prefer more flexible lifestyles.

From the employer perspective, the gig economy:

  • Benefits high-volume recruiting environments. 
  • Benefits businesses that can’t afford or don’t need full-time employees.
  • Allows companies to hire part-time or temporary workers during busier times or for specific projects.

Additionally, using the alternative, on-demand workforce is gaining popularity during an economic recession. Many companies are opening up to unconventional ways of doing business to cut costs in uncertain times.

The following gig economy stats will help you better understand: 

  • How the world of work is changing and what it means for your business
  • Whether you’re ready for what’s coming and whether you have the right technology in place

Gig economy statistics: the overall size

The spreading of the gig economy is a worldwide phenomenon in both developed and developing countries. 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to estimate exactly the size of the gig economy, especially when freelancers work in addition to their main job. 

Still, the stats below will help you better understand the overall size of the gig economy.

Gig economy in numbers

  1. Around 36% of US workers (approximately 57.3 million people in total) were part of the gig economy before the pandemic (Gallup, Statista).
  2. The share of workers in the USA participating in the gig economy rose by 15% in the 2010–2020 decade (CNBC).
  3. In 2018, the number of occasional independents jumped to 14.9 million compared to 12.9 million in 2017 and 10.5 million in 2016 (MBO Partners).
  4. The gig economy grew by 33% in 2020, expanding 8.25x faster than the US economy as a whole (Small Biz Trends).
  5. US freelancers contributed $1.21 trillion to the US economy in 2020 (MBO Partners).
  6. 40% of US-based workers generate a big part of their income via the gig economy (PYMNTS).
  7. The gig economy is expected to reach a gross volume of $455.2 billion by 2023 (Statista).
  8. 20-30% of the workforce in the USA and the EU-15 is part of the gig economy: that’s up to 162 million working-age people (McKinsey).
  9. The number of independent workers in the EU rose by 24% between 2008 and 2015: from 7.7 million to 9.6 million (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed). Over 28 million people in the EU are currently working via digital platforms (European Commission).
  10. The gig economy in the UK accounts for 4.7 million workers and doubled in size between 2016 and 2019 (The Guardian).
  11. A 513% YOY increase in new gig workers was reported in Japan since the COVID-19 outbreak (vs. 329% in Spain and 300% in the UK) (PeoplePerHour).
  12. India is home to the 2nd largest market of freelancers who constitute about 40% of total freelance jobs offered worldwide (ICRIER Future of Work in the Digital Era).
  13. India is emerging as the 3rd largest online labor market. It’s an important market for software development and technology projects (EY).
  14. The gig economy generates $204 billion in gross volume (globally) with transportation-based services comprising 58% (Mastercard’s survey). 
  15. The USA contributed a whopping 44% in terms of the global gig economy (Mastercard).
Gig economy: projected gross volume

Gig economy statistics: demographics and salary-related stats

Who exactly are gig workers and how much do they earn on average?

Check out these stats:

  1. Millennials account for 33% of all freelancers, fueling the expansion of independent work (MBO Partners).
  2. 37% of full-time independent workers are aged 21-38 (MBO Partners).
  3. There are more men (31%) employed in the gig economy than women (18%) (Edison Research).
  4. 25–34 is the most prominent age group when it comes to independent workers. They get paid $19 per hour on average (Payoneer). The 55–64 age group makes up a small percentage of the total workforce, yet they get paid the most ($36 per hour).
  5. Freelancers charge $21 per hour on average (Payoneer’s Income Survey).
  6. For 44% of gig workers, their work in the gig economy is their primary source of income (Edison Research).
  7. 64% of full-time workers want to do “side hustles” to make extra money (Deloitte).
US: Gig worker demographic

Gig economy statistics: benefits of platform work

What are the benefits of the gig economy? Who benefits most from this employment trend?

The gig economy benefits both employers (businesses) and employees by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and the demand for flexible lifestyles. 

The stats below will give you a better idea of how platform work benefits both workers and companies.

Gig economy benefits for employers (businesses)

The digital platform economy has many benefits for businesses, especially for economic reasons.

Consider these stats:

  1. 33% of organizations say they’re using alternative arrangements for IT, 25% for operations, 15% for R&D and 15% for marketing (Deloitte).
  2. According to 62% of executives, an external workforce enables them to improve the company’s overall financial performance (SAP Fieldglass). For instance, companies economize on employee benefits and office overheads.
  3. Almost three-quarters of executives cite the importance of gig workers in sourcing hard-to-find skills (SAP Fieldglass).
  4. 3 in 5 leaders increasingly prefer to “rent”, “borrow” or “share” talent with other companies, making their full-time staff smaller (Harvard Business School).

Using freelancers instead of full-time employees (an on-demand model) often means better efficiency, productivity and lower costs. 

Gig economy benefits for employees

The digital platform economy also benefits employees. The majority of gig workers enjoy the independence, flexibility and job variety this type of employment allows. 

Many gig workers report higher happiness and satisfaction levels with their work compared to people in traditional full-time employment, even if they have to work more and/or earn lower salaries (BCG Henderson). 

According to BambooHR’s survey, the top reasons why people leave their jobs include dissatisfaction, mental health, poor pay and unethical leadership.

Consider these stats:

  1. 79% of full-time independent workers say they’re happier working on their own than at a traditional job (MBO Partners).
  2. Approximately 56% of independent workers say that they feel more financially secure (MBO Partners).
  3. 63% of freelancers think that having a diversified portfolio of clients (4.5 clients per month on average) is more secure than one employer (Upwork).
  4. Around 60% of male gig workers and over 70% of female freelancers say they enjoy working independently due to the flexibility this type of work offers (MBO Partners).
  5. 51% of freelancers would not go back to traditional work (Upwork).
  6. 45% of independent workers prefer remaining independent. Around 20% prefer finding a full-time salaried position (BCG Henderson).
  7. 64% of gig workers report that they’re doing their preferred type of work (Gallup).
  8. 84% of freelancers are living their preferred lifestyle compared to 54% of employees working in traditional jobs (Upwork).
  9. 66% of full-time freelancers work as independents to be their own boss (Statista).
  10. 61% of US workers who freelanced pre- and during the pandemic claim they’ve had the amount of work they want or even more (Upwork).

Independent workers who switched to the platform economy by choice are the most satisfied group within the workforce.

McKinsey

As a result, the majority of independent workers want to stay independent.

Gig economy statistics: technology in digital platform work

The impact of technology is significant in the gig economy. Above all, thanks to technology, “gigs” have become easily accessible. As a result, freelancing, which used to be a side hustle, has turned into a trillion-dollar industry with millions of participants.

There’s a wide range of gig work apps and freelance platforms, such as Freelancing, Upwork or Fiverr. Online talent networks are growing quickly and are employing hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Growth of digital platform work

Consider these stats:

  1. Almost 80% of freelancers say technology makes it easier to find work (Upwork).
  2. Over 70% of freelancers find jobs through gig economy websites, such as Upwork, Fiverr or Toptal and online markets (Payoneer).
  3. Around 70% of gig workers aged 18-24 use the Internet in their job hunts (PYMNTS).
  4. Around 60% of gig workers use digital marketplaces to find new opportunities (PYMNTS).
  5. Electronically mediated workers are more likely to be in the age category from 25 to 54 (BLS).

Gig economy statistics: job security and healthcare

The growth of the gig economy brings not only opportunities, but also challenges.

For example, consider the issue of job security and medical coverage. The self-employed lifestyle doesn’t come ready-made with benefits such as a healthcare plan. However, in the USA, 84% of workers cite health insurance as the benefit they care about most, followed by sick time off (83%). 

According to Brodmin:

  • 54% of gig workers don’t have access to employer benefits
  • 40% have medical insurance 
  • 20% receive life insurance 

From a wider social perspective, the gig economy can resemble a modern servant economy with underprivileged social groups that have to choose between flexibility and stability. This may have long-term consequences for both employees and employers.

For this reason, the EU and other countries are planning to better regulate digital platform work and improve the protection of gig workers.

The gig economy is one of the most important transformations in the world of work. That’s why we need legal clarity, transparency, and sufficient consistency.

Piotr Smolen, CEO at Symmetrical

Technology, automated solutions and digital apps can also help centralize and optimize many processes.

Gig economy statistics: trends and the future

The future of digital platform work looks bright. For example, the gig economy is expanding 3x faster than the total US workforce.

According to some projections: 

Gig workers may outnumber the traditional workforce in many sectors.

The fact is that in the post-pandemic world, more and more job seekers will be turning to digital platform work. As most gig workers seem to be happy working independently, gone are the days of working 9-to-5 in a cradle-to-grave job.

Consider these stats:

  1. 86% of freelancers think the industry has a bright future (Upwork).
  2. Around 40% of executives worldwide expect freelancers to account for an increased share of their organization’s workforce over the next few years. 50% agree that corporate adoption of gig platforms would be a significant trend (BCG Henderson).
  3. By 2027, 60% of the US workforce will be independent (Business2Community).
  4. By 2027, the “alternative workforce” of gig workers is expected to become the majority of the US workforce (Deloitte, Upwork).
  5. By 2027, companies will be spending $6 billion on improving the rights of gig workers (Business2Community).
  6. By 2027, the number of freelancers is expected to reach 86.5 million in the USA (Wonolo, Statista, Upwork).
  7. 40% of organizations plan to use more gig workers in the next 5 years (Sama School).
  8. 80% of large US companies plan to increase their reliance on a flexible workforce and more non-traditional workers in the coming years (Intuit).
  9. Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (Forbes).
  10. 1 in 6 traditional job workers would like to become an independent earner (Upwork, McKinsey). 

Thus, independent work has big growth potential.

Gig economy: number of freelancers

The role of automation and gig apps

Businesses can expect some rapid changes and will need the right technology to meet the new gig reality.

One thing is certain: companies employing gig workers will need software and digital apps that simplify complex processes. This is the future of the gig economy. 

Consider the Uber app. It delivers a data-driven unified experience and shows drivers what goals they need to accomplish (and how). This model shows the importance of simplicity in gig work. 

Automated solutions will be essential for employers. Having the right technology and software will be extra important for HR, payroll and finance teams.

Piotr Smolen, CEO at Symmetrical

Consider payroll: one of the most important aspects for HR and finance departments to deal with when hiring gig workers. Flexible work, high-volume recruitment and global hiring opportunities mean much more complex and volatile hiring and payroll operations.

Unfortunately, most payroll solutions are not ready for this change. Therefore, the Symmetrical payroll solution allows you to hire at scale and pay people on time by automating your payroll.

Gig economy statistics: conclusion

The gig economy is changing the contemporary business landscape. This means that your company must be ready to welcome more platform workers.

The gig economy is growing fast. So don’t wait to prepare your business for the future. Having the right technology and software will help you attract the right gig workers to your organization (and keep them).

Piotr Smolen, CEO at Symmetrical

Is your payroll solution ready for the gig economy?

Symmetrical is the first payroll solution you won’t hate. We enable fast-paced companies to onboard at scale and run their payroll invisibly. To run your payroll hassle-free, on auto-pilot, contact our experts to learn more!

Sources

The gig economy and future of shared services and GBS delivery models
Gig Economy
The Future of Employment
The Gig Economy: flexible freedom or wage slavery?
Gig Economy Statistics and Trends
Gig Economy Trends 2022: 5 Predictions
23 Gig Economy Statistics
COVID and the Gig Economy
Projected gross volume of the gig economy from 2018 to 2023
Gig Economy: Definition, Statistics & Trends
Gig Economy – The Economic Backbone of the Future?
The hidden downsides of freelancing
Gig Economy Statistics: Demographics and Trends

video-spacer