Workers are turning to part-time work, not because they are unable to find full-time positions, but rather because they are eager to take advantage of the perks of the gig economy, according to a Gigwalk survey of more than 1,000 people across the United States who identify as freelancers or on-demand workers.
A strong majority of respondents (72 percent) said they expect to maintain or increase their level of work in the on-demand economy.
Almost half (44 percent) think that the freelancing economy will grow up to 25 percent in the next few years and nearly one-third of on-demand workers (28 percent) were even more bullish, saying they expected the industry to grow by 26-50 percent.
"One of the most revealing findings from the survey was the age distribution of gig economy workers. The public often associates the gig economy with Millennials, but freelancers are distributed fairly evenly across all age groups," David Hale, CEO of Gigwalk, told eWEEK. "The largest age group represented was actually workers 60 years and older. Similarly, there’s a perception that freelancers are concentrated in industries like transportation."
Hale noted while only 10 percent of the respondents said they had worked for a company like Uber or Lyft, a whopping 42 percent of gig workers are in educational services, doing tutoring and counseling jobs.
The report indicated flexibility is central to the gig economy, with 57 percent of respondents ranking the ability to set my own schedule as their first or second greatest benefit.
"People transitioning to freelance work should realize that this lifestyle isn’t just for part-timers, but can replace full-time jobs, too," Hale explained. "In fact, 38 percent of the people we surveyed said freelancing was their primary source of income. Another crucial takeaway is that gig economy workers are satisfied with their jobs. A whopping 68 percent of our respondents said they were somewhat or very satisfied with working in the on-demand economy."
The majority of people working in the gig economy (58 percent) are in professional and education services, with almost half (44 percent) of gig workers doing 1-2 tasks a month, while an elite group (12 percent) are doing more than 30 tasks a month.
"As the gig economy continues to grow in size and popularity, the way we work will continue to fracture. Freelance opportunities will multiply as Millennials – who aren’t wedded to the notion of a single source of income – enter the job market," Hale said. "From a policy perspective, this means we need to do more. Categorizing every worker with either a W2 or a 1099 doesn’t reflect the complexity of the gig economy. As the way people work evolves, so too should our labor policies and regulations."