July 01, 2017

The Maturing of the Gig Economy

The gig economy has evolved substantially over the past few years. DCR TrendLine has been discussing it and its different facets for the past three years.  The gig economy has continued to mature, pivot, and develop so that today workers and businesses all over the world are able to easily tap into this new digital economy. This article takes a look back at the journey of the gig economy.

The Early Days of the Gig Economy

Back in 2011, the gig economy was simple and focused on B2C. You might remember stories about platforms such as TaskRabbit, which were employing gig workers to do odd jobs in major cities. Tasks such as putting together furniture or making deliveries.

The origins of the gig economy stemmed from two major happenings: the growth of digital platforms and the leveraging of underutilized assets. Consumers were looking for wider choices, better access to goods and services, and flexible yet profitable work options. Through digital platforms, like Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit, consumers were able to access the assets of other consumers. It was a purely peer-to-peer phenomenon. And this peer-to-peer gig economy is today very mainstream and predicted to become a $300 billion industry by 2025.

Pivoting to B2B

In it’s early stages, the gig economy shifted from B2C to B2B with events such as Airbnb targeting business travel and Uber setting their sights on commercial transportation. New businesses attempted to connect with enterprises, particularly in the area of leveraging unused space in shipping and warehousing. Moving from business travel to logistics, the B2B gig economy is now firmly focused on staffing.

Measuring the Gig Economy

One of the primary government sources of workforce statistics, data, and insights in the U.S. is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the agency does not have a regular stat for the gig economy, though their regular measures of labor market activity do reflect a lot of gig work. However, the BLS has done a survey specially designed to measure contingent and alternative work arrangements in the past (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2005). However, for over a decade, we haven’t had a measure of the gig economy from the BLS. However, this year, the firm is planning on a one-time update to the Contingent Worker Survey. And you can count on DCR TrendLine to provide highlights from the findings when they are released.

Over the past few years, the gig economy has matured considerably, with the B2B gig economy a long distance away from the early days of peer-to-peer sharing. And we expect this growth to continue, with the growing enterprise demand for on-demand workforces and gig economy models contributing to the future of the gig economy.