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Working for the App

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How the Gig Economy Makes Having a Side Hustle Easier Than Ever

Anyone with a smartphone and a couple of seconds can easily hail a ride, book a room, schedule a chore — or to work. The gig economy has made it easier than ever for workers to set their own schedules and do business peer to peer, offering a level of convenience and flexibility that’s disrupting established industries. Read on for a look into the who, the what, and the why of this new work model.

The Giggers

From side hustlers to full-time freelancers, those working on digital platforms has grown to include nearly 1 in 4 Americans. 1

  • 24% of giggers make money from the digital platform economy.

Committed vs. Casual

Among those who use digital gig apps, some rely on gigging as an essential source of income while others use it casually to earn extra cash. According to Pew Research Center, here’s a cross-section of who falls where:

Average Monthly Income

Want to know how much you stand to make per gig platform? Anonymized data from Earnest loan applicants shows earnings from some of the top companies: 2

  • AirBNB: $924
  • TaskRabbit: $380
  • Lyft: $377
  • Uber: $364
  • DoorDash: $229
  • Postmates: $174
  • Etsy: $151
  • Fiverr: $103
  • Getaround: $98

The Industries

According to the Brookings Institute, the growth of gig employment in the transportation and accommodation industries is outpacing payroll employment by a longshot in cities across the United States. 3

The Ripples

As with many trending technologies, it’s difficult to predict how the gig economy will change the way we work, live, and get services. But what can we count on are the surprises along the way. Here are a few ripple effects of this still-new work model.

Unofficial Business

Gig workers don’t always fit neatly into traditional employment categories, making it a challenge to accurately capture data and report growth.

Gigging Out

A chain reaction of startups have seized the opportunity to support more established gig industries. 4

White Collar Gigs

Executive with managerial skills want in too, saying they’d ditch their full-time grind for the right leadership-level gig. 5

  • Executives that have done contract work in the past
    • Yes: 56%
    • No: 44%
  • Executives that would leave their full-time jobs if a contract opportunity arose
    • Yes: 63%
    • No: 37%

Gig work has made freelancing mainstream, side-hustles easy to come by, and everyday services just an app away.

Whether it will continue to outpace and eventually upend traditional employment remains to be seen — but for now, both workers and customers can’t seem to stop gigging.


  1. “Gig Work, Online Selling and Home Sharing,” 2016, Pew Research Center
  2. “How Much Are People Making From the Sharing Economy?” 2017, Earnest
  3. “Tracking the Gig Economy: New Numbers,” 2017, Brookings Institute
  4. “Is the Gig Economy Working?” 2017, The New Yorker
  5. “The White-Collar Gig Economy,” 2017, Mavenlink

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