24% of Americans reported earning money in the “gig economy” in 2015. A new study from the Pew Research Foundation says that the gig economy is bigger than we ever expected, and millions of Americans earn part-time or full-time income through services like Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit, Airbnb, and Ebay.
According to the Pew Foundation’s Aaron Smith, the 24% number includes people who sold items online in the past year; when that number is limited strictly to workers who earned money through what they call an “online job platform” in the last year, the number drops to 8%.
How We Make Money Online In 2016
One of the most confusing things the study found is that while 8% of Americans found jobs online–a huge number!–an even larger number of Americans have never tried out services like Airbnb and Uber. Only 21% of respondents used four or more app-based services of these sort, and most of them tended to make more money and live in cities or suburban areas.
However, most regular Uber and Lyft passengers realize that their drivers are 1099 independent contractors and not employees of the services. 66% of passengers think that drivers are independent contractors earning money for themselves; however, many of these passengers believe the companies should take a more active role in regulating the ride experience. This leads to a bit of tension.
Meanwhile, crowdfunding is bigger than most bystanders ever expected. 22% of Americans have contributed to an online crowdfunding project, and 3% of Americans have created one for their own efforts.
The Self-Employment Spectrum
There’s also a spectrum to the gig economy. There are some workers who casually work 1099 jobs in their free time for small amounts of money. Many of these folks say they are just “passing the time” and that they don’t depend on income from these jobs.
At the other end, there are a lot of full-time 1099 independent contractors who need the income from digital platforms like Uber and Lyft to take the bills. Their work is much more strenuous, often involving (in the case of platforms like Airbnb or TaskRabbit) physical labor, or longer hours. These workers depend on their gig work to pay the rent, pay for school, and pay for child care.
Where The Gig Economy’s Going
Reading through the Pew report, one thing really stood out to me: The gig economy workers who are most likely to depend on 1099 work to earn a living disproportionately came from less-well-off families. Not only that, but they’re also more likely to be non-white and not have college degrees. That was something that surprised me a little.
As Smith puts it, “They are also significantly more likely to say that they are motivated to do this sort of work because they need to be able to control their own schedule or because there are not many other jobs available to them where they live.”
In other words… a lot of folks working in the gig economy do it because they have to, not because they want to. If you need time to take care of kids or elderly parents, or don’t have many job options where you live, you do what you have to do. In a lot of cases, that means working through Uber, Instacart, or a similar service.
If you’re in that position, you need to figure out how to make as much money as possible–and how to be smart with the money you’re making. Almost Millions is here for that, and we want to help you earn more money and save more money.