Gig Workers Make Up 30% Of Labor Force, Says McKinsey Study

By Carolyn Said
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Like it or not, the gig economy has come of age. 162 million working-age people in the U.S. and Western Europe are engaging in some kind of independent work.

San Francisco Chronicle

Traditional 9-to-5 jobs are evaporating as more people make a living as independent workers. Now a major study from McKinsey Global Institute has found that the gig economy is much bigger than previously thought.

“Up to 30 percent of working-age people in the United States and Western Europe are engaging in independent work, either as their primary source or supplemental source of income,” said Susan Lund, a partner at the McKinsey think tank which released the study on Monday at O’Reilly Media’s Next:Economy conference in San Francisco. “That’s 162 million people — almost 60 million in the U.S.”

Some 70 percent reported that they fly solo out of choice. “They enjoy being their own boss, they have more creativity, and more opportunity to learn and grow,” Lund said.

The study shattered some common perceptions. Only a minority of independent workers are Uber or Lyft drivers, a visible segment that many people think of first when the subject of gig workers comes up. Instead, most have more familiar occupations: doctors and dentists, accountants and therapists, plumbers and electricians, gardeners and construction workers, retail clerks and computer programmers.

About 15 percent of independent workers rely on digital services like apps or websites to find work. That translates to about 4 percent of the working-age U.S. population.

The majority of those use the Internet to sell goods through marketplaces like eBay and Etsy. Fewer use apps like Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Thumbtack to sell their services, while an even smaller segment are using listing services like Airbnb to rent out assets such as homes or rooms, the report said.

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