AT A GLANCE

  • New research by SIA approximates that 44 million Americans were engaged in gig work in 2015
  • The largest portion of gig workers in 2015 fell into the independent contractor or self-employed category
  • Staffing firms spend $116 billion on temporary worker employment in 2015

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Nov 01, 2016

Gig Economy Growth

According to new research by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), approximately 44 million people engaged in gig work in the United States in 2015, with 29 percent of all American workers performing gig/contingent work last year. This equates to a spend of $792 billion on gig work.

The largest portion of gig workers in 2015 fell into the independent contractor or self-employed category.

Largest Categories of Work Arrangements for Gig Workers in 2015

Source: SIA

Spend on Gig Work

In 2015, $116 billion was spent on temporary workers employed through staffing firms. Meanwhile, human cloud workers managed through online labor platforms make up $11.6 billion in spend. This substantial difference is partly due to cloud work being used more often as a supplementary income and because assignments are generally shorter.

The largest category in terms of revenue per worker is Statement of Work consultants employed through consulting firms. This is because this category is largely made up of highly-skilled professionals with high compensation and mark-ups.

U.S. Continent Workforce Spend by Work Arrangement Category, 2015

Source: SIA

Preference for Gig Work

This figure means that gig and contingent work represents a very large economic sector in the United States. SIA’s report, Measuring the Gig Economy: Inside the New Paradigm of Contingent Work, which surveyed over 7,000 adults in the U.S., found that almost 40 percent of people prefer to alternatives to a traditional job. And 69 percent of independent contractors and self-employed workers prefer to engage in work outside of a full-time employment agreement.

SIA, in the report, defined contingent work as synonymous with gig work (anyone working on a temporary basis across one or more various types of work arrangements) including:

  • Temporary workers finding work through a staffing agency
  • Independent contractors
  • Workers managed through an online platform
  • Self-employed workers
  • Temporary workers sourced directly, including seasonal workers and interns
  • Statement of work consultants employed by consulting firms

However, conflicting research from Deloitte finds that 67 percent of those who did contingent works would turn down such work in the future. Additionally, over 60 percent of employed workers believe that they would lose their economic stability if they were to switch to independent contract work.

“Understanding who the gig economy workers are and how they engage with work is of critical importance to enterprise success. With close to one-third of the U.S. workforce active in the gig economy, and spend that is steadily approaching $1 trillion, challenge and opportunities abound.” ~Barry Asin, President of SIA

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