The gig economy was first marketed as the chance for everyone to boost their incomes, an equal opportunity to anyone who needed to make money. It even came with the promises of being your own boss and making your own hours. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute is revealing more about whether that arrangement is actually working for people participating.
Across the U.S. and five European countries, roughly 20% to 30% of the population is working in the gig economy, with 56% of those workers using it just to supplement their primary source of income. Another 30% who are full-time 'independent workers' choose this lifestyle actively, and the last 14% is in the arrangement reluctantly.
The full-time independent workers who chose this arrangement are far happier and satisfied than others in traditional employer-employee relationships. "Our research consistently for six years has shown the satisfaction rate of independent contractors is really high,” said Gene Zaino, chief executive of MBO. “A lot of people who are doing this kind of work don’t want to go back to the traditional 9 to 5.”
The group of workers who are unhappy in the gig economy is a minority, but a sizable one. Across the U.S. and 15 members of the European Union (a group that, for now, includes the United Kingdom), McKinsey estimates there are 23 million people “reluctantly” using independent work as their primary source of income, alongside about 50 million doing so by choice. In addition, about 90 million people earn income on the side through independent arrangements.