Based on a review of a variety of recent studies, a consensus has formed that the gig economy is large and growing.
Recent studies include, but aren't limited to:
- Pew Research's Gig Work, Online Selling and Home Sharing found that 24% of adult Americans - that about 59 million people - report earning money from the digital ‘platform economy’ in the past year.
- The Federal Reserve Board's Exploring Online and Offline Informal Work found that more than a third - 36 percent- of the U.S. adult population undertook informal paid work activity either as a complement to, or as a substitute for, more traditional and formal work arrangements.
- McKinsey's Independent Work: Choice, Necessity and the Gig Economy found 20% to 30% of adult Americans are gig workers.
- JP Morgan Chase Institute's Paychecks, Paydays and the Online Platform Economy found that while the number of people joining the online gig economy is slowing, their numbers doubled over the past year.
- Big 4 Accounting firm EY's Is The Gig Economy a Fleeting Fad or an Enduring Legacy makes it clear it's the latter. They say by 2020 at least 31 million Americans will be gig workers.
- Career Builders Side Gig study found that 29% of employed Americans have side gigs.
To put these numbers in perspective only about 20 million Americans (about 8% of adult Americans) work in all levels of government.
It used to be there would only be a couple of gig economy studies released each year. Now there are more than that in most months.
Also, up until quite recently study findings of this type were met with a great deal of skepticism.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, claimed in July of 2015 that Proof of a Gig Economy Revolution Is Hard to Find. They also reported in March of this year that The Entire Online Gig Economy Might Be Uber.
Skeptics who think the gig economy is small and/or not growing still exist. But their numbers have dwindled.
There are also still lots of gig economy issues where there is no consensus.
Examples include the actual size of the gig economy (agreeing it's large is not precise enough), what constitutes gig work, how to define gig work, whether or not gig work is good for the economy, whether or not people want to be gig workers, how to provide more security for gig workers .... the list goes on and on.
So there's still much to do.
But we have reached the point where most people agree the gig economy is large, growing and important.