According to the IRS, the share of workers earning at least part of their income from independent contracting increased 22% between 2001 and 2016. Now, after months of living in social distance and business disruptions, the impact of the pandemic continues to financially burden Americans working in the so-called gig economy. That’s forced many such workers to improvise and adapt to protect their financial health, say members of the Ipsos SMX US Syndicated online community, Fresh Lab.
While the gig economy can have flexible work terms that are beneficial to many workers, it can also have unpredictable income and leave workers especially subject to volatility in the economy. Looking forward, this has profound implications for the financial services market in relation to lending, credit and new services to help this class of workers can stability.
For now, most community members continue to have uncertainty when it comes to planning their future after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a survey of community members, 16% indicate that over half of their income relies on being a freelancer or independent employee as part of the gig/shared economy. Over a quarter of this group indicate that their income has decreased since March 2020, particularly among members between the prime earning ages of 35 to 44.
“I haven’t been able to visit my regular customers and work for them because everybody is too afraid of COVID (myself included),” wrote one SMX community member. “This has forced me to not work for an unforeseen amount of time.” This is an example of the insights drawn from The Fresh Lab syndicated online community. Made up of more than 6,000 engaged consumers across the U.S., the community tracks a variety of consumer behaviors and sentiments on a weekly basis.
Like many gig workers, just over half of members are not able to do their jobs digitally/online. Many are doing what they can to replace the lost income, including working jobs for lower pay or relying on unemployment support from the government.
Still others are finding it difficult to find any type of employment and are relying on spending less and saving more. But some are trying to adapt to the current environment to maximize their employment opportunities.
“I have been reinventing myself, learning new skills to satisfy the work-from-home jobs available,” wrote another community member.