The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure, U.S. Spotlight 2020

Since May, we have been examining the lives of gig workers around the world and the impact COVID-19 has played on their financial lives. Our reports on Brazil, South Africa, India, and Indonesia each tell the tale of workers who are struggling to achieve financial stability and an urgent need for financial institutions, fintechs, and policymakers to identify financial services that will help them survive this crisis and thrive in the future.

Our fifth edition of the The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure focuses on the United States. We partnered with digital worker platform company Steady to survey U.S. gig workers and understand how their financial lives were impacted and what their hopes and concerns are for the future.

The U.S. Spotlight reveals that 68% of gig workers in the U.S. (employed in service roles, such as e-hailing and delivery) reported a decline in total income. Nearly 3 out of 5 workers earned less than $1,000 per month, compared to 1 in 5 before the lockdown. While government aid has delivered some relief, many workers continue to struggle and are seeking work with better pay and additional educational opportunities to help build financial stability. 

Key findings from the report include:

  • Black and Latinx communities were disproportionately impacted by the crisis. Black workers were hit the hardest financially, with 61% now earning less than $1,000 per month.
  • Worker sentiment and financial impact varied meaningfully by city, depending on the regional course of the pandemic. In Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia, more than half of the workers reported a large fall in income, while San Francisco workers, who also reported a large income decline, indicated a somewhat more positive outlook. In New York, workers reported less economic hardship and lower levels of concern.
  • More than half of the respondents applied for unemployment benefits since the crisis began, although most struggled to navigate the application process.
  • 39% of workers found new or additional work, with over a third of new work coming from online or app-based platforms.

Download the full U.S. Spotlight 2020 here.

Complete research findings are available on our interactive dashboard: