‘Gig Economy’ Is Just Jargon to Most Americans


Three out of four U.S. adults (75%) have never heard of the term “gig economy,” according to the results of a new American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® survey conducted online by Harris Poll. Roughly three in 10 Americans (29%) don’t know how to define the term, and 31% cannot identify specific types of gig work.

Without a definition, most U.S. adults (85%) say they may have performed work one might consider “gig” at some point in the past. However, after being given a definition that describes gigs as various forms of small-project, freelance assignments typically facilitated by an internet platform or app, that percentage drops to 20%, the survey results show.

A large majority of Americans (78%) see the gig economy as a new way to describe the kind of nontraditional work arrangements that have been around a long time. More than half (53%) disagree that the U.S. will evolve to predominantly a gig economy within the next 20 years.

“The ASA Workforce Monitor findings demonstrate that many Americans are puzzled by the term, ‘gig economy,’” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “Despite this confusion, and even if it is just a new term for an old approach to work, the majority of Americans don’t believe that gig work will be a dominating force in the economy in the coming years.”


Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the U.S. on behalf of ASA Dec. 20–22, 2016, among a total of 2,067 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Results were weighted on age, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and geographic region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population.


About the American Staffing Association

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit americanstaffing.net.

About the ASA Workforce Monitor

The ASA Workforce Monitor is a periodic survey commissioned by ASA and conducted online by Harris Poll among 1,000 or more U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey series focuses on current workforce trends and issues. For more information about the survey series, visit americanstaffing.net/workforcemonitor.

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