By Shami Barooshian
2008 was a tough year for the U.S. economy: Lehman Brothers fell, the real estate bubble burst and a new generation of college grads entered the workforce. But out of the ashes of economic downturn something good emerged: the gig economy.
While employers and consumers have grown accustomed to this new industry of freelancers as the U.S. economy has bounced back, one question remains: What’s in it for the members of this growing workforce? Things like flexible schedules and the opportunity for networking may be some of the more obvious perks. When you break the gig economy down by the numbers, a compelling story of the how and why professionals are shifting their career focus comes to light.
Over the last two decades, the gig workforce has grown 27 percent more than the traditional workforce of payroll employees. High rates of discontent in traditional work roles—a 2013 Gallop study reported 70 percent of U.S. workers were unhappy at their current jobs—emphasize a growing desire for transformation in the current workplace structure.
In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 70 percent of women with children under the age of 18 were working mothers. With flexible work hours, the gig economy provides attractive employment opportunities to parents who divide their time between work and family life. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of women employed in the gig workforce more than doubled.
The explosion of new, high-demand industries continue to act as kindle for the gig economy fire. Professional staffing agency Addison group reports that when hiring managers are hiring for positions under a time crunch, they are likely to look at temporary or project-based employees to fill the need. 36 percent of these hiring managers claim that this situation is most common in the IT industry.
In a 2016 interview with NPR, Princeton University professor of economics Alan Krueger estimated that a little over one third of Uber drivers rely on driving for the rideshare company as their only source of income. According to Krueger, just shy of a third of Uber drivers have full-time jobs and the last third supplement their wages with other part-time jobs.
In 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. During the playoffs, on-demand service platform TaskRabbit experienced a spike in overall requests in Chicago. On the day of game one of the NLCS, taskers were booked for 57 percent more cleaning tasks, while Cubs-related tasks doubled from week one to week two of the World Series. One popular task? Out-of-towners asking taskers to buy their favorite Cubs fans a drink at local bars.