As the gig economy booms, more workers fear lack of predictable income

As the gig economy booms, more workers fear lack of predictable income

We’re headed for a gig economy boom, but is it sustainable? While companies like Uber, Postmates, Lyft and the like promise income with a flexibility and freedom that eludes many of us working regular 9-to-5 jobs, data from Intuit indicates that the issue is more complicated than companies make it out to be.

In a new report, Intuit interviewed more than 4,500 people who find work through Uber, Upwork, Wonolo, MBOPartners, OnForce, Work Market, Visually, HourlyNerd, Fiverr, Deliv and Field Nation.

Responses showed that most on-demand workers spend more than 40 hours per week working, with 12 hours devoted to their “primary on-demand job.” The average worker relies on three different streams of income to make ends meet, with a third of workers listing on-demand work as their top source of income.

Why do workers choose on-demand? Money is the simple answer: 65 percent of workers say they do on-demand as supplemental income. 46 percent say they like the flexibility and control of the schedule.

The amount of income made by an on-demand worker varies significantly, with the lowest hourly rate reported at $12 and the highest at $96. An average of 22 percent of household income is estimated to come from on-demand work.

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But many on-demand workers are concerned about the possibility that the money will dry up. The top challenges reported for on-demand workers are “getting enough work,” “unpredictable income,” and “unfair pay,” which make it difficult for workers to consistently rely on their gig economy jobs to make money.

And, as the report forecasts the on-demand workforce to grow to 7.6 million Americans by 2020, the supply problem could be further impacted by the sheer volume of competition. On-demand is a numbers game, and the more people involved in providing services, the greater possibility workers might not see their fair share.

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This is the continued problem with on-demand work: if companies promise income and incentives for people to work, then those things must be consistent and dependable. It’s also a story that rarely gets told — for the most part, data about how workers are treated at on-demand companies is opaque.

These issues are coming to a head in the courts, especially as Uber enters into a major class-action lawsuit that could force the company to reclassify its drivers or provide other benefits not currently in place.

The silver lining in this report actually comes in the form of job satisfaction. More than half of workers say that they are “Highly Satisfied” or “Satisfied” with their current work, which shows that there is a merit to the job flexibility these companies provide. But stability is key in the long run, and that might be a challenge.

Intuit [SlideShare]

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