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Gig Work Becomes Primary Source of Income for Majority of Workers, Providing Financial Security Amid Turbulent Economic Times

Gig Work Becomes Primary Source of Income for Majority of Workers, Providing Financial Security Amid Turbulent Economic Times

Third annual Gig Payments Report from Branch and Marqeta finds flexibility and faster payouts remain important to gig workers as inflation soars

Branch, the leading workforce payments platform, and Marqeta , the global modern card issuing platform, announced findings from the third annual Branch x Marqeta Gig Payments Report, a joint study on the work and payments preferences of gig workers. Surveying over 1,000 workers who turned to gig and 1099 work in the last six months, the study found that gig work continues to be a lifeline and has become a primary source of income for many workers rather than a supplement to salaried roles, with survey respondents almost unanimously citing inflation as an ongoing struggle.

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“Our study makes it clear that gig workers rely on gig work to not only help them stay afloat during tough financial times, but to help them achieve financial stability”

Among workers surveyed, 61% cited that they complete gig work for their primary income, a nearly 3x increase from 2021, where 21% of those surveyed said the same. Hinting at increasing economic instability, the number of workers who have left, or plan to leave, full-time employment to join the gig economy increased by 40%, rising from 35% in 2022 to 49% in 2023. In addition, 55% of workers feel like they have more opportunities to pick up work this year compared to last year, and 66% of surveyed workers said they find it easy to pick up gig work.

“Our study makes it clear that gig workers rely on gig work to not only help them stay afloat during tough financial times, but to help them achieve financial stability,” said Simon Khalaf, CEO at Marqeta. “The on-demand economy can’t work without on-demand pay, especially with shifts in access to credit that Marqeta is helping its partners offer solutions for.”

Inflation continues to be a main driver for workers seeking gig work opportunities, with almost two-thirds (63%) picking up more jobs due to inflation and higher prices. Specifically, workers cited gas (85%), groceries (80%), and utilities (45%) as the top price increases that have impacted them the most in the past six months. Being paid faster after a shift is an incentive for many workers, with 79% citing that they’d choose one gig platform over another if it could pay instantly without fees.

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“The speed and ease in which workers can not only find work, but also get paid are why they’re increasingly choosing the gig economy over traditional work to weather today’s economic challenges,” said Branch CEO Atif Siddiqi. “Platforms that can offer workers higher, faster payments and compelling financial services that can help them better meet both their work and personal expenses will win over this growing wave of talent.”

Amid rising economic instability, gig work provides workers with a sense of financial security. Fifty-three percent of workers feel more financially resilient to economic changes because of their gig work, and nearly half (49%) think their economic prospects are higher compared to working a salaried job. Among Gen Z gig workers surveyed, this number rises to 58%, demonstrating the evolving nature of traditional jobs. What’s more, the flexibility of hours they work (55%), higher earning potential (25%) and faster payments (10%) are what make them most likely to stay with a gig platform, with 19% of Gen Z gig workers surveyed selecting faster payments as a top reason to stay.

Additional findings from the Branch x Marqeta Gig Payments Report include:

Expenses Rise as Savings Fall

  • Among top financial concerns, gig workers ranked home/rent affordability at the top of the list (73%), followed by utility bills (61%), groceries (57%), and auto expenses/transportation (47%).
  • When asked about grocery expenses specifically, workers cited eggs (41%), meat/poultry/fish (39%), and milk/dairy products (9%) as the price increases most impacting their budgets.
  • The number of gig workers surveyed that have $0 saved in case of emergency rose to 37% this year, up from 31% a year ago. Millennial gig workers in particular are feeling the pinch, with 41% having $0 saved.

Gig Workers Embrace Digital Payments, Financial Services

  • Gig workers are among the growing demographic embracing digital wallets and financial services, with the majority (65%) confident enough to leave their physical wallets at home and rely on their phones.
  • Over one-third of gig workers (34%) have turned to an online or digital bank for their primary banking services. They’re also open to more, with 83% citing they’re interested or would be open to financial services offered from the gig platforms they work with.
  • When asked how frequently they’d like to be paid, over two-thirds of gig workers (68%) wanted faster, more flexible payments. Over half (58%) wanted to be paid at least daily if not after each job while 10% wanted to receive their payments anytime they requested.

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