Community engagement

Gig work: benefits, drawbacks, and the surprising outcomes

Exploring the rise of gig workers in America through a new survey by Super.com.

January 15, 2024
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5
 min read
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Last updated:
Jan 23
A smiling woman sitting in front of her laptop with her dog beside her.

According to Statista, as of 2023, there are 73.3 million gig workers in the US- and that number is expected to grow to 76.4 million in 2024.  Just what is a gig worker?  Simply put, a gig worker is a person who does freelance work and obtains at least part of their annual income outside of the standard employer-employee full time relationship.  People turn to gig work for all sorts of reasons from the allure of a flexible work schedule, to its lower barriers to entry, to the promise of additional income to help pay  bills, and more.

At Super.com, so many of our customers are, in fact, gig workers, and in order to serve them better, we crave a holistic understanding of the context of their lives.  So, in December 2023, we surveyed more than 1,000 customers to understand their interest in gig work and the impact gig work has on those who do it.  To dig deeper, I also spoke with 3 customers to better understand their feelings and sentiments.  Here’s what we learned:

What are the most popular gig jobs Super.com customers take on and why?

Super.com customers report that the most popular gig jobs they’d take on are:

  1. House Cleaning or Handyman Services: 27%
  2. Food Delivery (e.g., DoorDash, Uber Eats): 34%
  3. Ride-Sharing (e.g., Uber, Lyft) (14%)

They’d turn to gig work because for the following reasons:

  • Financial necessity: 62%
  • Flexibility: 46%
  • Entrepreneurial Experience: 23%

All 3 of the customers I had the opportunity to chat with spoke about the need for financial security and that the reality of gig work is that whether it’s supplemental income (for example, a second job) or their entire income, it’s what enables them to make ends meet.  Survey respondents agree, with 50% indicating that gig work has materially improved their financial stability.

How many jobs do gig workers take on?

While ~60% of respondents surveyed indicate they have 1 job, 22% have 2 or more jobs. Low income customers, those earning $40,000-$49,999 annually were the most likely to have 2+ jobs, with nearly 1/3  of respondents in that income range indicating they have 2+ jobs.

Even more interesting, that number is ~6x the number of Americans overall who hold more than 1 job, which in October 2023 was reported to be 5.2%.  That’s very likely explained by the reality of the circumstances of Super.com customers.  Since Super.com offers customers the unique opportunity to earn money, save money, get cash advances and build credit - all in one place - our customers are often in a middle or lower income bracket, taking on gig work to make ends meet.  The kicker?  In the past 6 months, nearly 70% of survey respondents have considered getting another job (e.g., adding to the number of jobs already held, not replacing) to pay their bills.

What are the impacts of gig work on the lives of gig workers?

As mentioned above, Super.com customers stated the top 3 reasons they’d turn to gig work are: financial necessity (62%), flexibility (46%), and entrepreneurial experience (23%).  Of those that are already gig workers, they’ve seen some pros and cons in the outcomes of gig work in their lives.

On a positive note, as mentioned above, 50% of respondents reported that gig work does enable them to improve their chances of financial stability.  The Super.com customers I spoke with primarily discussed gig work as either a supplement for when they need to earn additional cash (e.g., around the holidays) or a much-needed entry into the workforce, citing that without gig work, they wouldn’t be able to qualify for a full time role that might require a 4 year degree or other qualifications that they simply didn’t have.  These customers are just grateful for the opportunity to have jobs that enable them to keep their family finances afloat.

There were, unfortunately, some negative sentiments as well.  Respondents who had hoped that gig work would improve their work life balance simply didn’t find that to be the case, with 72% of respondents indicating that it has had a neutral to significantly worse impact on balance.  In addition, ⅓ of respondents indicated that it has worsened their stress levels and taken a toll on their mental health.  When asked why, customers cited the rising cost of living (from housing to food to child-related expenses) meant they simply had to do more work to keep up.

It’s clear that gig work, like any job, has its pros and cons.  But, as one Super.com customer put it, “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do it.  It’s how I make money.  That’s how I feed my family.”  As another put it, “It gives my family and I stability - a feeling I lived my entire childhood without.”  The fact that it enables 50% of our customers who responded to find that financial stability is a feat to be celebrated - while we think through how to enable the remaining 50%.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Radhika Duggal

Radhika is currently the CMO of Super.com, the mobile commerce and fintech company that enables consumers to experience more of what life has to offer. Prior to Super, she led underbanked marketing as a CMO at Chase. Radhika earned an MBA in marketing from Columbia Business School and a B.A. in marketing and international business from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. She is also a published author, who teaches Consumer Behavior at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University.