Correcting misconceptions about the gig economy

Debunking a few myths about gigging

By Field Nation

A father drives part time for Uber three days a week. Two mothers operate a small makeup business out of their home full time. A freelance writer earns $100 an hour for writing blogs as a side-hustle. An electrician spends his days servicing projects he finds on Craigslist. What do these people have in common? They participate in the fast-growing gig economy. Unlike the standard nine to five job, this contract work is typically short-term or project-based. These workers are men and women, old and young, and span across the country. It takes many forms, and influences industries throughout the United States. In fact, more than a quarter of workers participate in the gig economy.

Using the gig economy to supplement your workforce is a popular technique, but some remain skeptical of gig workers’ ability to meet their needs. If you are weary about common gig economy misconceptions, these facts might change your mind.

Misconception 1: Gig work includes only low-pay, low-skill projects suitable for people who can’t get a “real job.”

Wrong. Skill level of typical “gigs” is often very high. For example, a freelance electrician requires years of specialized training and practice and earns an average of $52,911 a year. This situation is no anomaly. 93% of freelancers have skill-related education/training and 79% have a college education, and in most countries, freelancers earn higher wages than traditional workers.

Rather than focusing on money, people choose to work as independent contractors to gain control and freedom over their career. They value the flexibility and lifestyle that comes along with gig work. Instead of sitting at a desk all day and taking direction from someone else, they get to be their own boss, travel more, and work remotely. In fact, 50% of gig workers say they would not return to their traditional job, even if the pay was higher. This could be attributed to the fact that 77% of full-time freelancers said they have a better work-life balance, and 84% said they prioritize lifestyle over pay.

Misconception 2: The gig economy is a fad driven by millennial’s.

Millennial’s are only 4% more likely to participate in the gig economy. According to a study conducted by PwC, 65% of workers ages 50+ strongly agree with having a “strong desire to work independently”, versus a 29% agreement from workers ages 18-24.

The gig economy is not going anywhere, with freelance labor growing faster than the overall U.S. workforce. In fact, from 2014 to 2017, the gig economy outpaced the growth of the U.S. workforce at a rate 3x faster. Plus, businesses around the globe rely on this market.

Misconception 3: The gig economy is primarily work related to ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft.

Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft were revolutionary when they gained popular adoption and “disrupted” whole industries. In the past few years, they even became standard in the transportation industry and streamlined processes that were once clunky and complicated.

Yes, it is true that drivers for these businesses are considered gig workers. However, did you know that this work represents less than 1% of gig jobs? It is definitely not the primary work found among independent workers. Far more is done in other industries, such as construction, healthcare, and business services.

Many of these industries that utilize independent workers to foster organizational growth are increasing their demand for this labor. Specifically, businesses in  information technology services, accounting and finance, administrative services, and project management are depending more and more on 1099 workers. By 2027, half the working population in the U.S will participate in the gig economy, thanks to higher demand for freelancers from these markets.

The Gig Economy is Here to Stay

Using gig workers can be a useful tool to scale and grow your company outside its current capabilities. Whether it’s via in-house contractors, on-site workers, or consultants, there are many different ways to involve your company in the contingent workforce and embrace the evolving work economy.

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