27 Key Gig Economy Statistics 2023: The New Workplace Norms [2023]

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By Paul Martinez

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Updated on

The gig economy has become a key part of our lives. Even if you aren’t using the gig economy to pick up some extra cash, then there’s a good chance you’ve employed a gig worker to drive you home, deliver your dinner, or even clean your house.

You can also start and scale an ecommerce brand by understanding this massive trend. 

Gig Economy Statistics: Insights and Trends in the Freelance and On-Demand Workforce

But while it’s impossible to ignore the growing presence of gig employees in the workforce, what is happening behind the scenes? Gig working is growing rapidly compared to the rest of the U.S. economy, and many gig workers are feeling happier, and more satisfied, with temporary work. Discover the new workplace norms with these 27 key gig economy statistics for 2023. 

1. Roughly 57.3 Million Americans Are Gig Workers

The gig economy has become inescapable in the past few years, going from a small percentage of workers to a major player in the average workforce. Even if you haven’t joined the gig market as an employee, then there’s a good chance you’ve used a gig service at some point.

It’s hard not to: over 57.3 million workers in the U.S. are currently freelance workers, accounting for almost 36% of all employees in the country.

(Statista)

2. There Are Over 1 Billion Gig Workers Worldwide

It isn’t just the U.S. that’s seeing this incredible boom in the gig market economy. It’s estimated that worldwide, there are roughly 1.1 billion on-demand workers. This major shift has been partly motivated by Covid-19 closing large parts of the traditional workplace.

(Forbes)

3.16% Of Americans Have Earned Money From Gig Platforms

Online gig platforms put employers and consumers directly in contact with the gig worker. 16% of Americans have turned towards these platforms as a way of making money.

Gig platforms offer various forms of work, from cleaning houses, to delivering groceries, to making deliveries, to offering rides. Easily accessible, gig platforms provide a method for flexible working, although the potential monetary games of these platforms are variable.

(Pew Research)

4. In 2020, The Gig Economy Grew By 33%

The coronavirus pandemic had a seismic effect on the global economy, and caused many workers and businesses to rethink their strategies. One notable effect of Covid-19 was the growth of the gig economy.

While some areas of the gig market undoubtedly struggled with enforced lockdowns, overall the gig economy grew by 33%. At the end of 2020, the gig economy was valued at $1.6 trillion.  

(Freight Waves)

5. The Average Freelance Work Week Is Between 11 And 30 Hours

So, how much time does the average freelancer actually spend on gig work? It’s difficult to say: in the U.S., the average freelancer works between 11 hours and 30 hours a week. That’s anywhere from low part time hours to almost full time working hours.

For some, gig work provides supplementary income, in addition to a full time wage. For others, freelancing is their primary income source.

(Statista)

6. Arts And Design Workers Are Primarily Freelance Workers

For most arts and design workers in the U.S., the freelance market is their primary method of finding employment. 77% of workers in the field of arts and design work freelance, while 58% of marketing employers are gig workers.

Other industries with a high percentage of freelance workers include computer workers and construction workers, at 53% and 52% respectively.

(Upwork)

7. Over 9.6 Million Workers In The U.S. Are Self-Employed

For many gig workers, the benefit of self-employment is breaking free from the control of the traditional workplace. Over 9.6 million workers currently identify as self-employed.

This is a slight dip from the numbers at the end of 2021, when a record high was recorded during the economic rebound following the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 actually saw a decline in self-employment, as small businesses were forced to close. 

(Oberlo)

8. Most U.S. Gig Workers Are Young Men

The gig economy attracts a diverse range of workers, although 52% of gig employees are male. 38% of gig workers are between the ages of 18 and 34, and 25% of gig workers are between 35 and 54.

For many younger workers, the gig economy is seen as a flexible and independent working environment, although just 26% of millennials see gig working as providing more security than a traditional job. 

(Teamstage.io)

9. 22% Of Florida Workers Are Gig Workers

The highest percentage of gig workers to traditional workers can be found in Florida. In Florida, 22% of workers are gig workers, compared to 20% in California, and 18% in Texas and Illinois. States such as New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts see an average of 16% of employees turn to gig work for income. 

(ADP)

10. The Typical Salary Of The Gig Worker Is Around $39,000

According to Glassdoor, the median salary for a gig worker in the U.S. is around $39,000 a year. For gig workers, income is largely dependent on location and demand, which means income fluctuates significantly from person to person, and month to month.

If you’re thinking of trading the traditional workplace for a gig role, consider your specific role and location, rather than the national median.

(Glassdoor)

11. But 85% Of Gig Workers Earn Less Than $500 A Month

Many gig workers take home less than $500 a month from their chosen platform — far below the living wage. Again, this number doesn’t quite tell the full story.

While for some $500 might be their total earnings for the month, for others, the gig economy is a side hustle and an opportunity to earn additional income. As a supplement to a primary income, $500 is an easier number to swallow. 

(Everlance)

12. The Gig Market Is Expected To Reach 90.1 Million Employees By 2028

Gig Economy Employees Projected

The gig economy shows little sign of slowing down. By 2028, it’s estimated that over 90 million U.S. workers will be employed by the gig market. This would make the gig economy the primary force in the U.S. workplace, accounting for over 50% of all employees. 

(Statista)

13. 70% Of Freelancers Find Jobs On Gig Economy Sites And Online Marketplaces

The rise of the gig worker is closely connected to the rise of the gig online marketplaces. These websites and apps work for employees, employers, and consumers, providing new ways for people to find work (and workers). 70% of freelancers have found at least some work using an online market or gig economy site.

(Teamstage.io)

14. Workers Are Feeling Less Supported By Traditional Work Roles

Many have turned to the gig economy after growing disillusioned with the traditional workspace. An increasing number of workers no longer see the 9-to-5 job as the stable and secure platform it once was, and feel it doesn’t provide the security they need. 68% of independent workers felt more secure working independently, increasing from just 32% in 2011. 

(Harvard Business Review)

15. 53% Of Freelancers Are Skilled Professionals

The number of skilled professionals turning to freelance work is growing. In 2021, 53% of freelancers provided a skilled service, including computer programming and IT work. This is an increase from 50% in 2020.

On the flip side, the number of freelancers with a high school diploma or less is decreasing. Between 2020 and 2021, freelance numbers among the less educated dropped from 37% to 31%.

(Upwork)

16. Over Half Of Workers With Postgraduate Degrees Are Freelancers

Freelancing is becoming a necessary career path for many workers with postgraduate degrees. Over half of workers with postgraduate degrees — 51%— are working freelance in the U.S. By comparison, 35% of workers with a Bachelor’s Degree or a college or associate degree are working freelance.

Our understanding of gig work and freelance work must adapt to recognize the growing importance of this style of employment among those with a higher education.

(Upwork)

17. More Fortune 500 Companies Are Turning To Gig Workers

It isn’t just employees that are turning towards gig work — employers are increasingly choosing this non-traditional path. As the flexibility and control of gig work grows more appeal to the workforce, traditional employers will have to reflect on what they have to offer.

For many businesses, this has meant introducing more gig worker roles. This system also allows companies to upsize and downsize, depending on changing financial conditions. 

This makes total sense in cases where you need something like an SEO specialist. This is much more cost effective, in many cases you just pay for say an SEO tool that your company controls and have them use it. 

Also with the use of AI the gig workers that use this well can 10x their results. So now the game is, can you hire a gig worker that is really like 10 gig workers and sift through the normal gig workers to find that. Artificial intelligence has changed the game from AI in advertising to AI in content optimization

(CNBC)

18. Nearly One Third Of Gig Workers Are Over 55

Gig work can often seem like a young person’s game, but this style of employment has a broad appeal. In fact, nearly one third of gig workers are over the age of 55. So, why are older workers turning to the gig economy?

For many, it offers a flexible working schedule that allows them to make money without the demands of a traditional job. Gig work also allows older workers to connect with a passion, and many choose the role to engage with something they love.

(ADP)

19. 70% Of Gig Workers Chose Independent Working

70% of gig workers have chosen to work independently, rather than enter the traditional workplace. 60% of gig worker employers also expect to see this continue, and intend to stay in their role (or similar) for the next 3 years. Gig workers see the associated benefits of independent working as outweighing the potential securities of a traditional workspace.

(ADP)

20. Flexibility Is Key In Attracting Employees To Gig Work

Flexible Gig Work: Attracting Employees with Ease

What makes the gig economy so appealing to so many workers? Overwhelmingly, the answer appears to be flexibility. Many workers value the ability to set and adjust their own schedule, allowing them to build a work-life balance that they feel meets their needs.

Although flexible working is often a choice, it can also be a necessity. Family and health issues prevent some gig workers from entering the traditional workplace.

(Upwork)

21. Gig Workers Value Their Time More Than Money

63% of gig workers said they prefer having increased flexibility to taking home more money. In comparison, just 50% of traditional workers said they prefer flexibility to money. The shift towards gig work might reflect a larger shift in the priorities of the workforce.

Many are now seeing an increased importance in making the most of their time, rather than simply making the most money. 

(MBO Partners)

22. 19.5% Of Gig Workers Do It For An Additional Income

There is a massive amount of variety in the gig market. Independent workers may choose this path as an opportunity to engage with a passion, a chance to break free from the strict roles of traditional employment, or as a way to take closer control of their finances.

For close to 20% of gig workers, it’s a way to make some additional income, and to supplement another job.

(McKinsey)

23. 68% Of Gig Workers Do It As A Side Job

The flexible hours of gig work have been established as a major attraction. One benefit of flexible working hours is the ability to fit your job around other commitments. And in many cases, that other commitment is a primary job.

However, we might expect to see these numbers change as more established companies turn away from the traditional 9-to-5 model.

(Pew Research)

24. Only 60% Of Gig Workers Have Health Insurance

While there are many benefits to gig work, there are also some undeniable downsides to leaving the traditional workplace.

A study by the International Labor Organization (LBO) found that 60% of gig workers are without health insurance — a particularly concerning number when you consider how many gig workers are employed for physical labor. Just 21% of surveyed workers were covered for work related injuries.

(Geneva Association)

25. And 70% Of Gig Workers Believe They Need Better Legal Protection

We may have established that gig work is a rapidly growing area of the economy, and trends suggest a potential move away from the traditional workplace, but there are still areas of concern.

Primarily, the protection of gig workers. 70% of gig workers believe they need better legal protection, while 67% believe that corporations employing gig workers avoid workers’ protection.

(Zety)

26. The Gig Economy Is Growing 3X Faster Than The Rest Of The U.S. Workforce

Establishing clear statistics regarding the gig economy is slightly tricky at this stage — not due to lack of numbers, but due to the massive changes the area is undergoing. The gig economy is expanding at a rate 3X faster than the total U.S. workforce, and changes are coming rapidly.

It’s expected that by 2027, over 50% of workers in the U.S. will be a part of the gig economy. 

We believe that digital marketing is a great place for gig workers to expand into. There are so many companies who need services that are not easy to manage like building and managing email lists. 

(Teamstage.io)

27. 90% Of Freelancers Think The Future Looks Bright

What does the rapid expansion of the gig economy mean for the gig workers? For many, the future looks bright. 9 out of 10 gig workers believe the best days for the independent workforce lay ahead. Hopefully, this will mean better legal and health protections, and more opportunities for gig workers at a larger range of companies. 

(Upwork)

Gig Economy Statistics – Final Thoughts

The gig economy is expanding rapidly, with gig work becoming a viable choice for both primary and secondary income. While for many, the flexibility of gig working is the key draw, issues regarding legal protections will need to be addressed as the gig economy grows. But overall, the future of gig working looks bright. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Gig Economy Statistics, and Why Are They Important for Understanding the Modern Workforce?

Gig economy statistics refer to data and metrics related to the gig economy, which comprises individuals working in short-term, temporary, or freelance roles instead of traditional, full-time employment. These statistics offer insights into the growth, demographics, and impact of the gig economy on the labor market and economy.

What Percentage of the Workforce Is Part of the Gig Economy?

The percentage of the workforce engaged in gig work varies across countries and industries. According to some reports, around 30% of the U.S. workforce and a significant portion of workers in other countries participate in gig work in some capacity.

Which Age Groups Are Most Likely to Be Part of the Gig Economy?

The gig economy attracts individuals from various age groups, but younger generations, such as millennials and Gen Z, are often more likely to participate in gig work due to its flexibility and digital nature.