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Assumptions about gig workers are mostly myths, report says

December 19, 2018

Many of the assumptions people make about contingent workers — such as that they are mostly low-wage earners in manual and service industries looking for short-term work to supplement their main income — are misconceptions, according to the report, “The Myths & Realities of the U.S. Gig Economy,” published today by applicant tracking system provider iCIMS Inc.

“Our survey indicated that the majority of contingent workers are experienced and nearly half hold an associate’s degree or higher,” said Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS. “Employers can tap them to fill gaps in their workforce.”

Contract work is the primary source of income for 70% of contingent workers, according to the report. Survey findings include:

  • Eighty-two percent of contingent workers said they have at least one current contract job that is knowledge-based, such as writing, photography, professional consulting, technology services, healthcare services or tutoring.
  • Many workers have been participating in the gig economy for a long time, with 40% having started doing contract work more than five years ago. About one-third, 31%, said one of their goals in taking contract jobs is to transition into a full-time job and 15% said they wanted to land a full-time job at the company they contract for.
  • Flexibility outweighs stability for the contingent workforce, as 76% of gig workers find contract work exciting and 24% find it stressful.
  • Sixty-five percent found contract jobs from referrals, such as friends or professional network contacts. Only 17% found work through mobile-based applications for on-demand jobs.
  • According to gig workers, the biggest downside of the work, by far, is lack of employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement plans. Many workers have been participating in the gig economy for a long time, with 40% having started doing contract work more than five years ago. Only 31% said one of their goals of taking contract jobs is to transition into a full-time job and 15% said they wanted to land a full-time job at the company they contract for.

The survey was conducted among 1,000 US adult gig workers including, independent contractors, freelancers or short-term temporary employees. The report also includes data points from iCIMS’ recruiting platform.

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