|Since the Global Financial Crisis, unemployment has dropped to low levels in most of the developed world at least. That’s fantastic. It needs to continue.
One of the important factors in this positive trend seems to be the evolution of work arrangements that enable quick responses to fast-moving markets and consumers. Flexible work creates work! But this gets regulation-lovers worried. They reckon that if work isn’t controlled through government regulation, there’s got to be something wrong. Currently their focus is on the so-called ‘gig’ economy. Apparently, it’s a big ‘problem’ that needs a solution.
We’re intensely interested in the ‘gig’ issue because ultimately the regulation-lovers’ push is about squashing the right of people to be self-employed. And that’s a right that we love!
There are heaps of inquiries and reports. As examples, there are questions over Uber (ride sharing), Facebook, AirBNB and so on generating big media coverage. But here’s a core question. Just how many people are earning their income through ‘gig’ engagement’? How big is the issue?
We’ve pulled together data from reliable sources covering the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Here are the summary tables.
Get this. For all the big noise about the ‘gig’ economy the number of people using ‘gig’ engagement as their income source is tiny. The stats show that:
The results are similar in the USA and Australia.
That is, for the bulk of people using gig engagement, it’s pocket money or top-up ‘nice-to-have’ income, but not core income.
But it’s important also to distinguish between ‘gig’ and other self-employed work. The Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE) in London has produced a great research report on this. The report looks at the freelancer side of self-employment and finds that:
This is consistent with our summary table.
What’s more, CRSE identifies that the freelance sector generates some £140-145 billion of economic output for the UK economy. It’s major stuff. Here are some key extracts from the CRSE report.
An important finding by CRSE identifies skills as the key issue relating to income levels, not the nature of the contract:
Ken Phillips and the Team at Self-Employed Australia