Spurred by pandemic, 85% of gig workers report picking up additional work

A joint study on the work and payments preferences of gig workers has been published by Branch and Marqeta. Surveying over 1,000 workers who turned to gig and 1099 work in the last six months, the Branch x Marqeta Gig Payments Report found that driven by the pandemic, 85 percent of respondents said they had picked up additional work.

People turning to gig work in the past six months may have been motivated by limited cash flow. Nearly 80 percent (78%) had less than $500 saved for an emergency and more than 40 percent of gig workers (42%) would not be able to access another source of funds outside of their primary bank account.

Among top financial concerns, gig workers ranked home/rent affordability at the top of the list (47%), followed by utility bills (27%).

Workers cited higher pay and faster payouts as their top incentives for taking on gig work. Nearly 90 percent of workers were more likely to choose one gig platform over another if they could pay them instantly without fees (87%), and even more associated faster pay with greater financial peace of mind (94%). Approximately 4-in-5 (82%) wanted greater flexibility in when they were paid for work, with most only turning to one or two platforms to supplement their income (73%), as the majority held a full-time job. Meal/grocery delivery applications were by far the most popular (50%), with ridesharing a distant second (10%).

“Given the significant loss in hours available at many jobs throughout the pandemic, many employees have turned to gig and contract work to quickly boost their income,” said Branch CEO Atif Siddiqi. “But competition among platforms will only increase as the gig economy and independent contract work continue to grow and reopenings widen. Workers already limit the number of platforms they use, so ones that can offer faster, flexible payouts at no cost will gain the greatest competitive edge.”

The pandemic has also increased gig workers’ use of contactless payments and digital wallets (80%), with more than half of respondents (56%) ramping up their use significantly. Debit cards were overwhelmingly the preferred method of payment (75%), followed by cash (9%). Workers were also 5x more likely to prefer online/mobile app payments or digital wallets over a physical credit card.

“This survey shows how the new experiences powered by modern card issuing are directly empowering better financial outcomes for those that need it the most,” said Vidya Peters, Marqeta CMO. “When looking to gig work, people want to maximize their cash flow. The idea of being able to access your earnings immediately, and without fees, is hugely motivating. We can see that not only are these demands creating a new relationship with our money, they’re bringing greater peace of mind and financial security for those that need it the most.”

Vidya Peters

Other interesting findings include;

  • Meal/grocery delivery (e.g. Instacart, Shipt, Postmates, Uber Eats, Doordash, GrubHub, etc.) has been by far the most popular app/platform (50%), followed by ridesharing (10%).
  • The majority of gig workers (73%) use 1-2 platforms to pick up work.
  • 87% of workers were likely to choose one gig platform over another if it could pay you instantly without fees.

About 4 in 5 gig workers want greater flexibility when they get paid. Over 70 percent of gig workers prefer to receive their pay within the same day they work, with 38.8% preferring right after each job and 33.4% at the end of each day. About 10 percent (9.7%) want to request payouts at any time, while only 18.1 percent prefer weekly.


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