Americans and the Gig Economy

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.

Moms on the “Mother Load” 2018

Moms on the “Mother Load,” the latest study from the Research Moms at Edison Research focuses on all the tasks that women do when they are called mom. The physical parenting responsibilities as well as the thinking, organizing and planning all contribute to the mental load that moms carry.  The report highlights not only the tasks that are managed, but also how those tasks are shared among co-parents and how moms view that division of labor.

For the full Moms on the Mother Load 2018 study click here.

Moms on the Mother Load: New Survey Results

Click here to register for our webinar with complete results from the new study, Moms on the Mother Load, this Thursday, November 29 at 2pm EST. 

This past August, Edison Research conducted an online national survey of 516 moms of children age 21 and under and asked them to indicate who does what in their household, how they feel about their responsibilities, and how much confidence they have in their child’s other parent to handle these tasks.

The survey covers not just the workload of parenting and home responsibilities but also the mental load that is required to manage a household. From planning birthday parties to making doctor appointments, find out what U.S. moms say they are responsible for, what their co-parents are responsible for, and how they feel they are handling it all.


Podcast Diversity 2008 - 2018

Podcasting and Race: The State of Diversity in 2018

Recently, my colleagues Melissa Kiesche and Megan Lazovick gave a presentation at WerkIt – A Woman’s Podcast Festival. Their presentation, Closing the Listening Gender Gap, presented some new data on the composition of the podcasting audience and also some of the reasons why some women don’t listen to podcasts. You can download the full presentation here–it’s terrific–but it reminded us here at Edison that it’s a good time to revisit another aspect of this evolving medium: the growing diversity of podcast listeners.

First of all, let’s take a look at a comparison of the U.S. Population in 2018, and our most recent Infinite Dial data on monthly podcast listeners:

Podcast Listener Composition by Ethnicity

Podcast Listener Composition by Ethnicity

Here’s what is notable about the comparison of these two pie charts: absolutely nothing. And that’s wonderful news for the medium–the podcast audience today looks nearly identical to the population in general, and that means podcast producers have a wonderful opportunity to create an equally diverse portfolio of content. With the podcast audience essentially mirroring America, podcasters truly have an entrée into winning over The 52–the 52 million Americans who have heard of podcasting, but haven’t yet taken the podcast plunge.

Now, here is why two nearly identical pie charts have me so encouraged about the near term prospects of Podcasting: it didn’t used to look that way. In fact, it used to look really different:

Podcast Diversity 2008 - 2018

Just one short decade ago, the podcast audience was nearly three-quarters White, which was as much a reflection of the types of content being produced at that time as any other explanation. But over the last 10 years, podcasters themselves have become more diverse, and with that so has the universe of available content.

A lot has changed in just 10 years. Just think–back in 2008, we didn’t have Spotify, Snapchat, Uber, GPS on your phone, or Ed Sheeran. But for the ethnic diversity of podcast listeners to change so much over the last ten years is a tribute to the great democracy of podcasting: anyone with a story to tell, can tell that story. Increasingly, America–and the world–is listening.

Marketplace Edison Research Poll

Marketplace and Edison Research Reveal a Dramatic Shift in How Partisans Perceive Economic Data

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was famously quoted as saying “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” In the case of economic data, however, this may not be true. In the October 2018 edition of the Marketplace/Edison Research Economic Anxiety Index poll, we asked a sample of Americans how much they trusted data about the economy that is reported by the Federal Government. 60% said that they at least “somewhat” trust the data, up from 55% in October 2016. And the most extreme reaction, “Do not trust it at all,” declined from 25% to 14%.

However, if we dig a little deeper into this question, we find something remarkable. The October 2016 survey was, obviously, fielded right before the Presidential Election, in the waning days of Barack Obama’s administration. The competing worldviews in the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could not have been more different: while Clinton ran on a platform of continuing the policies of the Obama administration, Trump ran under the argument that America was not, as surveys frequently ask, “on the right track.”

At the time of the October 2016 survey, U.S. unemployment was at roughly 5%, a number which is certainly below average (i.e., more towards full employment) compared to historical trends (by comparison, five years prior to October 2016, the unemployment rate exceeded 9%). So, with the government reporting “good” news, those who were currently aligned with the administration were more likely to believe that news. However, economic prosperity is never evenly distributed, a fact that then-Candidate Trump used to his advantage when he campaigned in pockets of America that had seen significant declines in manufacturing and well-paying jobs. If you lived in Youngstown, Ohio, or Flint, Michigan, your local economy was not doing well, regardless of what the national statistics said.

As a result, there was a sharp disparity between how Clinton supporters felt about government statistics, and how Trump supporters felt, as we reported back in 2016. Then, the 55% trust/45% distrust by the total sample masked a significant partisan divide. While 86% of Clinton supporters trusted government economic statistics, only 31% of Trump supporters felt the same—indeed, 48% of Trump supporters indicated that they didn’t trust these stats at all, compared to 5% of Clinton supporters. With Republicans and Democrats overall, these differences were still highly significant: 78% of Democrats trusted government economic data, compared to 38% of Republicans.

How you interpreted this disparity likely depended on where you personally identified yourself politically. If you were a Democrat, you likely would have been inclined to cite Senator Moynihan’s quote, above. But if you were a Republican, you would likely have made the argument that the facts on the ground are different; that, despite what the national statistics say, there are significant pockets of America that are economically only getting worse. Both sides, in other words, were demanding to be entitled to their own facts.

This year we had a remarkable opportunity to revisit this phenomenon, once again just prior to a significant election, only now under a Republican administration. As noted above, the degree of trust in government statistics did tick up by five percentage points, and it should also be noted that unemployment today is even lower (currently 3.7%) than it was two years ago. While the percentage of those who trust government economic data did rise modestly from 55% to 60%, that rise once again masks a significant partisan divide.

Trust in Economic Data by Party

The October 2018 data show that the “trusters” have completely flipped positions from 2016. Today, 73% of Republicans trust government data (compared to 38% in 2016) and 51% of Democrats trust these data (compared to 78% in 2016.) This is truly a remarkable shift in just a two-year period. The percentage of Republicans who “do not trust [government economic data] at all” declined from 37% to 7%. And the “somewhat distrust” figures for Democrats rose from 12% to 32%, nearly tripling in two years.

The opportunity to revisit this question under a new administration has given us a profound insight into how Americans from either side of the aisle perceive government communications. While one might have been tempted in 2016 to proclaim that Republicans were willfully ignoring “good” economic news, the truth is that both sides are inclined to believe “facts” when they are presented by their party, and less likely when they are presented by the opposition party. Yet, the underlying data is the same: unemployment statistics tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just as they have been since 1948.

All of which brings us back to Senator Moynihan. Perhaps we are all entitled to our own facts, after all.