How the COVID-19 Pandemic Led to a Gig Economy Surge

12 April, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the daily lives of countless business owners and the professionals who worked for them, increasing the sense that a return to pre-pandemic business operations isn’t likely for many. Businesses of all sizes sent employees home to work remotely, and a large majority of those employees want to continue working that way. Digital workspaces and Zoom meetings replaced in-person meetings and have proven just as effective in supporting communication and collaboration.

Work travel was replaced with online meetings and virtual conferences, with business owners inclined to continue that way due to the substantial cost savings. Today, many companies forced to downsize aren’t successfully rehiring to pre-pandemic levels, as critical workers have found their place elsewhere.

For many of those laid-off workers, that “place” they discovered is the booming gig economy, where they can leverage their expertise to perform on-demand gigs and services on their own schedule and at their own pay rates. They’ve traded 9-to-5 jobs in cubicles for flexible self-employment, choosing jobs that interest them and dramatically improving their quality of life. They’re building their own businesses, starting with a particular niche and expanding their services rapidly as they gain a clientele and prove their worth. Through service providers like Stride, gig marketplaces are now offering workers the option of accessible and affordable benefits, including ACA insurance, Dental, vision, and more.  

The gig economy was steadily growing before COVID-19 disrupted the world, but as the pandemic persisted and businesses suffered, the gig marketplace did the opposite—it surged. Users on both ends jumped on board to leverage the benefits of the gigs and services industry, with businesses filling workplace voids with on-demand workers and professionals gravitating to online marketplaces to position themselves as ready and willing to work. Thanks to user-friendly platforms, the gig economy has continued to grow throughout the pandemic, making it easy to find and connect with vetted workers with specialized skillsets.

One such online marketplace is Wage, which has experienced unparalleled growth during the pandemic. The on-demand gigs and services app has seen 10,000 – 25,000 new downloads every quarter for five consecutive quarters—with zero advertising spend. Small business accounts on Wage now represent 30% of total users, demonstrating the trend of business owners and managers gravitating to the gig economy to find qualified workers. Completed jobs have exceeded 500,000, proving that connecting employers with workers through online marketplaces is highly productive.

Today, there are 1.1 billion gig workers worldwide and 55 million in the U.S. More than 2 million Americans tried gig work for the first time in 2020, and it’s estimated that by 2027, almost half of the U.S. population will have engaged in some form of gig work. While these numbers are impressively high, it should come as no surprise to see the surging interest in the gig economy, considering how it’s expanded over the past five years. What was once an industry

associated with delivery drivers and running errands is now a booming economy of professionals who offer everything from landscaping and childcare to accounting and marketing services. Those professionals who sat in cubicles and staff meetings pre-pandemic are now working for themselves, taking their years of experience and college degrees to online gig marketplaces to secure clients and build a thriving business. With this incredible expansion, businesses and consumers can connect virtually any type of service through the gig economy. Workers can permanently trade in their regimented work schedules for flexible project-based income.

The future of the gig economy and platforms such as Wage looks bright, with 4 out of 5 businesses planning to leverage gig workers and 50% already doing so. It is already producing more than 6% of the American Goss Domestic Product (GDP), encompassing major service categories including home services (handymen, landscaping), personal services (personal training, hairstyling), computer services (data entry, computer repair), automotive (detailing, car washing), events & entertainment (photography, event planning), general labor (yard work, personal errands), and animal care (dog walking, pet sitting).All the numbers point to an industry ripe for even greater growth. As gig workers expand their services, more businesses leverage this growing workforce, and platforms like Wage make it increasingly easy to connect. The time is now to dip your toes into the gig economy and see how it works for you, whether as a business owner in need of services or a worker ready to build a small business on your own terms. Get started on Wage at https://www.wagedev.com.

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