Research suggests that gig work is anything but a stopgap measure, by no means underpaid or too unstable to be viable long-term in the U.S.
19 Dec 2022
A new segment of a broad new study sponsored by Legal & General Group, U.S. Gig Economy, Part 2: The Gig Economy Represents a Vast Range of Industries and Fields, was released today, continuing the exploration into the changing nature of work in the U.S., people’s relationship to it, and what employers should be thinking about. Part 2 of the study seeks to define what constitutes a gig worker and looks into the several dozen industries and the many models and levels of pay comprising the U.S. Gig Economy.
The second segment of the data-rich study, The Gig Economy Represents a Vast Range of Industries and Fields, examines the demographics of the American gig working population through the lens of those making more than 60 percent of their income through gig work, who are neither retired nor a student—including breakdowns by gender, geography, education, whether single or in a relationship, pay level and frequency, and tenure in working independently. The range of work fields identified in the study points to the multifaceted professional lives of this group, as well as getting a better understanding of their personas and what drives them to work in the gig economy.
Legal & General Group Chief Executive Sir Nigel Wilson: "While critics of gig work see the practice as a stopgap measure, not fruitful or stable enough to be a sole source of income over the long term, our study dispels this myth. Fully 60 percent of the people we talked to earn their living solely from gig work, while an additional 33 percent earn at least 70 percent of their total income working independently. These figures point to a need for understanding how best to serve this growing segment of the population.”
Study co-author and Legal & General Director of Levelling-Up, John Godfrey: "One of the fascinating takeaways from this this research is the kaleidoscopic array of people, professions, and pay scales that exist in the U.S. Gig Economy. The entrepreneurial spirit of U.S. gig workers seems to lead to an adaptive, polymath mindset that flies in the face of the model of financial and social stability offered by traditional employment models. Our research looks into the motivations as well as the setbacks to working this way."
Legal & General’s study looks at the complex and multifaceted societal and financial factors behind this wave of independent work are, propelled by positive incentives, insecurities and anxieties, and above all the desire for freedom and flexibility. The gig economy has its drawbacks, notably around financial
security and, often, lack of access to basic health and social needs. Future segments will look in depth at how gig work is expressed as a choice; the fierce independent-mindedness of gig workers; the extent to which gig workers meet their health and life insurance needs; similarly with their retirement needs; what it would take to get gig workers to go back to “the office”; and the pandemic fallout for gig workers.
Notes to editors
Established in 1836, Legal & General is one of the UK's leading financial services groups and a major global investor, with over £1.4 trillion in total assets under management* of which a third is international. We also provide powerful asset origination capabilities. Together, these underpin our leading retirement and protection solutions: we are a leading international player in pension risk transfer, in UK and US life insurance, and in UK workplace pensions and retirement income. Through inclusive capitalism, we aim to build a better society by investing in long-term assets that benefit everyone.
*at 31 Dec 2021