Who Are the Workers in Today’s Gig Economy?

When hiring for different roles, it’s helpful to know what type of worker you’re searching for and how they work. So who’s working in today’s gig economy?

Man with a delivery bag on his bike

From dog walkers, construction laborers, and graphic designers to personal trainers, flaggers, and SEO specialists—the rise of today’s gig economy is undeniable. In a variety of industries, gig workers are generally considered to be anyone performing their work without the oversight of a regular, full-time boss or company. These workers don’t receive regular employee benefits, but operate on a flexible schedule on terms they choose.

The gig workers, the freelancers, the self-employed, the independent contractors, and the temp workers—they might be lumped together in conversation, but there are distinct, nuanced differences between each type of worker.

When hiring for different roles, it’s helpful to know what type of worker you’re searching for and how they work. So who’s working in today’s gig economy?

Freelancer

A freelancer is generally considered to operate largely within the creative industries, with many graphic designers, writers, editors, and photographers owning the freelancer title. A freelancer generally works on a project for an agreed upon fee (which can vary between hourly, by project, or per collateral) and completes to an expected outcome and deadline. Being a freelancer typically indicates they work on a number of projects for different clients at once, actively marketing their skills for new projects or jobs. In most cases, a freelancer will wholly own their time and decide how the work is done and where it is done.

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor’s functionality is similar to that of a freelancer, but typically works with one client for an extended period of time rather than with multiple clients at once. In many cases, their work requires specific expertise or knowledge base. Independent contractors primarily work for an hourly rate and may do this through a third party, whether a staffing agency or recruiter. However, independent contractors can work on their own and with multiple clients. Both freelancers and independent contractors are responsible for their taxes, insurance and liability.

Contingent or Temp Worker

A contingent/temporary worker largely chooses the jobs or gigs they want to fit their lifestyle and schedule. Temp workers operate in a variety of jobs with varying skill types and levels. They are W-2 employees through a staffing agency or company. Temp workers step in when businesses need help, most likely for short-term roles. Companies will integrate temp workers into their hiring strategy to access a larger talent pool, increase production and agility, scale teams easily and cost-effectively, and to support their permanent staff.

Self-Employed

Self-employed individuals earn income directly from their own business, trade, or profession of an employer deciding the wages or salary. A self-employed individual, or solopreneur is their own boss, but cater to the needs of their customers or clients. Another term for this type of worker? Business owner.

Want more information on different types of workers? Visit the IRS for details. Now that you know the various types of workers, learn how PeopleReady can connect you with the temp workers you need to keep your business running.

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