When people see service websites such as Uber or auction websites such as eBay, the assumption is that someone is using those services to make a lot of money. Many people are even starting to assume that the gig economy, the money derived from taking per-call work on a website, is going to be the future of the American workforce. Instead of going to an office in the morning, people will simply drive around town in their own cars and give others rides to wherever they need to go.
Freelance work has been around for a very long time, but the Economist points out that freelance workers make up only two percent of the entire British economy. In the United States, that number is between seven and eight percent. Are companies like Uber changing the way that people work? While some people hope for a way to be their own boss, the reality may be a little less glamorous.
Part-Time Is Still Not Full-Time
According to the Atlantic, Uber had approximately 160,000 people working for the service in 2014. However, the average Uber worker only put in 15 to 20 hours per week. That would make Uber a part-time job at best, and that is not going to generate anyone an income they can live on.
What has been discovered is that the average Uber driver makes around four trips each month, and utilizes the service to make extra money. If the gig economy is trying to establish itself as the next great way that Americans will work, then it is going to have to do better than supplying part-time work or less to the working public.
The Juggernaut Is Really Not
Uber gets used as the topic of conversation about the gig economy because it has established itself as a juggernaut in generating gig revenue. But even at its peak, Uber only paid approximately $3.5 billion in income to its drivers from January to October 2015. That sounds like a lot of money, but it actually only represents around 0.06 percent of all income paid in the private sector. When the juggernaut of a worker movement cannot even crack one percent of all income paid, then it is time to assume that the movement is not moving very much at all.
All of the data suggests that, at this point, the gig economy is being used for extra spending cash and is attracting very few full-time workers. Any hopes of organizing gig workers into some large community will have to wait until more people show an interest in doing this type of work on a regular basis. As Uber continues to expand, it expects to continue to show that getting paying gigs on the Internet is going to be the way that work happens in the future around the world.
Will companies such as Uber be able provide an alternative option for workers looking to avoid the typical 9-5 in the future?
George N Root III is a professional freelance writer who has expertise in topics such as Internet marketing, business, advertising, and personal finance.