And they don’t appear to be reshaping the workforce. Over the past two years, for example, pay for gig workers has dropped, and they are earning a growing share of their income elsewhere, a new study finds. Most Americans who earn income through online platforms do so for only a few months each year, according to the study by
One reason is that some people who experimented with gig work have likely landed traditional jobs as the economy has improved. Drivers for
The new data echo other evidence that such online platforms, despite deploying cutting-edge real-time technology, now look less like the future of work. A government report in July concluded that the proportion of independent workers has actually declined slightly in the past decade.
“People aren’t relying on platforms for their primary source of income,” said Fiona Grieg, director of consumer research at
The data is derived from a sample of 39 million
Most participants cycle in and out of gig work to supplement their incomes from other jobs. Previous research by
For drivers, 58 percent work just three months or less each year through online economy websites. These include ride-hailing services like
The study also reviewed online platforms that provide home improvement work. These include TaskRabbit as well as dog-walking, home cleaning and other services. Two-thirds of those workers perform gig work for only three months a year or less.
Low pay likely helps explain the frequent turnover of workers who use the gig platforms. For transportation workers, who mostly include
That drop may at least partly reflect the fact that many drivers are likely working fewer hours, Grieg said. As the number of independent drivers has ballooned over the past five years, drivers have faced intensifying competition. And many have likely found other sources of income as the job market has strengthened. Still, some platforms may be paying their workers less, Grieg said.
Competition among drivers has clearly intensified. The number of independent workers in taxi and limousine services, which includes ride-hailing companies, jumped 46 percent in 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the Census Bureau.
Todd Suffreti has seen the difference in the two years that he’s driven for
“It’s really saturated, and the calls don’t come in as often,” said Suffreti, 45. “It’s not like it used to be. I have to work harder and longer to get what I used to get.”
For drivers, online income now makes up just 26 percent of their total annual earnings, the
“It’s really those transportation platforms that have grown tremendously and now represent the lion’s share of the dollars and participation,” Grieg said.
People who participate in leasing websites, such as