Some gig workers saw increased activity during the pandemic as COVID-19 impact on gig workers vary by industry
As flu season arrives, some gig workers are bracing themselves for the next wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. While some states and countries are seeing a spike, other areas have flattened the curve. These areas have historically experienced lower flu rates, and they tend to be located in milder climates like the southern states. This has impacted gig workers who see the COVID-19 impact on the Gig Economy means increasing demand for their services.
Delivery services saw a spike in activity as people stayed at home and ordered food, and most items online. Stores offering same day delivery and curbside pick up, leveraging gig platforms such as Phlatbed, point pickup, and shipt for their access to a vast network of delivery drivers. Arguably, gig workers are essential workers because the gig economy kept the world moving through the pandemic.
Most gig workers have more than one gig
Joe D’Angelo runs three gig apps, a mix of rideshare and delivery services. “During the week, I do rideshare for a few hours. Sometimes it gets to you because some passengers are problematic. I need to keep my rating high so once I hit my minimum, I shift to my next gig delivering groceries for Shipt.” He says switching between gigs keeps the work interesting, and helped at the height of the lockdown, though he had multiple gigs before the pandemic. “I’ve always had multiple gigs. I deliver large items for Phlatbed because it pays the most for each job compared to other gigs. I can complete one Phlatbed job and make anywhere from $80 – $400 in two hours before switching to my other gigs which usually pay anywhere from $6.50 per delivery to $14 per hour”.
Asked how COVID-19 impacted him, Joe says gig work is socially distant by design, and the pandemic emphasized it. “I’m not palling around with my passengers or delivery customers, I’m being professional. I pick up the item and drop them off, the same way a passenger gets in and gets out at their destination”.
COVID-19 impact on the gig economy means increasing demand for gig workers?
In most cities, grocery delivery services saw a sharp spike in activity, leading to a frenzy of investment activity into these platforms. This is now spreading into last mile delivery platforms. Will this last? Some experts don’t know, but the data points to an interesting trend; A new poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy shows that the number of Americans using food and grocery delivery services held steady at 40% since the outbreak—including 16% who are using these services more often now than before, and 12% who are using them less frequently.
“On the other hand, demand for delivery services has expanded among those most concerned about the virus. This is a clear example of the dynamism of the U.S. economy, and underscores an important challenge facing policymakers as they seek to address both the real safety concerns of gig workers and the benefits these services provide consumers.” said Asst. Prof. Dmitri Koustas of Harris Public Policy. Bear in mind, in 2018 alone, U.S. revenue from the gig economy reached $1.3 trillion and involved 53 million workers. This was pre-pandemic, and through the pandemic, the COVID-19 impact on the Gig Economy means increasing demand for their services. Gig work will only grow.
Furthermore, 26% with household incomes of $100,000 or more have increased their use of delivery services for groceries during the pandemic, compared with 12% with household incomes under $50,000. This means higher income earners are taking rapidly to delivery platforms, which means more work for gig workers.