More and more Americans are participating in the gig economy. But CityLab writer Sarah Holder says that while the work-when-you-want schedule provides flexibility and other benefits, it's doesn't provide a steady paycheck, which may have larger implications for the economy as more people turn to this lifestyle.

A new study out of the JP Morgan Chase and Co. Institute attempts to analyze a more granular sector of the gig economy: People who find and are paid for their labor through online platforms.

Fiona Greig, the lead author of the study, found that in general, this deepening pool of gig workers are not gig working consistently at all. In no sector did the majority of workers participate in any online platform for more than a quarter of the year. In the selling and leasing marketplaces, around 70 percent of participants worked only one to three months out of the 12; and in the transportation sector (the biggest cohort), almost 60 percent participate for only three or fewer months per year.

But perhaps the most alarming finding is that over the last five years, monthly earnings have dipped across the entire online platform economy, especially for transportation industry workers, for whom earnings have dropped 53 percent since 2013. This decline could be interpreted as a harbinger of doom for this type of work, suggesting that as the supply of drivers grows (and remember, it’s growing), they’ll all be earning less.

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