Consumer Surveys · December 12, 2018

Americans and the Gig Economy

By Edison Research

Click here to download the Edison Research Marketplace Poll Gig Economy report 12.12.18

Almost one-fourth of American adults earn money in the gig economy, and the ones who earn their primary income in the gig economy are much more likely to have anxiety and feel financially insecure than non-gig workers.

T­­­wenty-four percent of Americans earn at least some income from “gig” work, such as driving for Uber or Lyft, selling products or services online, or working in some type of freelance capacity. Gig work may be the primary or secondary source of income, and as this study shows, those who rely on the gig economy as their primary source of income are more likely to have high anxiety levels, fear unexpected expenses, and feel financially insecure.

The Marketplace-Edison Research Poll is a regular series of surveys that examines how the U.S. population feels about their personal economy and financial situation in the landscape of the larger U.S. economy. The Economic Anxiety Index is a tool designed by Edison Research and Marketplace to measure the amount of stress a person feels about their individual financial situation through a series of twelve questions regarding job security, saving and expenses, and general financial anxiety.

Only 24% of those who are employed (not in the gig economy) have an Economic Anxiety Index score over 50. Almost half, 45%, of those who rely on gig work as a primary source of income have an Economy Anxiety Index score over 50.

“Our research shows that there are really two gig economies: one where gig jobs serve as the primary livelihood for employees, and one where they provide supplemental income. The 44% of Americans working in the gig economy who depend on gig work as their primary source of income show deep economic anxiety, which merits further study,” said Edison Research President Larry Rosin.

Key findings include:

  • 24% of Americans earn some income from the gig economy.
  • For 44% of gig workers, their work in the gig economy is their primary source of income.
  • For 53% of gig workers aged 18-34, their work in the gig economy is their primary source of income.
  • Men are more likely to be employed in the gig economy than women. Thirty-one percent of men say they earn money through the gig economy compared with 18% of women.
  • 31% of Hispanic adults 18+ earn money through the gig economy,compared to 27% of African Americans and 21% of White adults.
  • 45% of those who rely on gig work as their primary source of income have an Anxiety Index Score over 50, compared to only 24% of those employed but not in the gig economy.
  • 80% of gig employees whose gig work is the primary source of income say that an unexpected expense of $1,000 would be difficult to pay.
  • 28% of those who rely on gig work as their primary source of income say they are not financially secure compared to 20% of those employed but not in the gig economy.
  • 51% of gig workers say they work harder for their income than those in traditional jobs.

How the study was conducted:
Edison Research conducted a national survey of the United States population aged 18 and older. There were 1,044 interviews conducted via landline phone, cell phone, and online. Interviews specific to the topic of the gig economy were conducted from February 14, 2018 to February 20, 2018. This is the first time that the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll has included questions about earning money through the gig economy.

About Edison Research:
Edison Research ( conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of commercial clients, governments and NGOs, including AMC Theatres, The Brookings Institute, Disney, The Gates Foundation, Google, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Samsung, Spotify, Sirius XM Radio, and Univision Communications. Edison Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, and Radio One. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election. Edison conducts more than 100,000 interviews in a single day for this project. Edison provided exit polls and tabulated the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News in the 2018 U.S. elections and will do so again in 2020.

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