Gig Economy: Which Generation Is Doing The Gig Work?

gig economy

Recently a news report has been making the rounds about how baby boomers are the generation making the most as workers of the gig economy. However, the report was based entirely on one company’s workers. Therefore, I got curious and wanted to dig deeper into this.

Are Baby Boomers Doing Best in the Gig Economy?

The Mercury News was just one of many sources that shared the news recently that baby boomers are thriving in the gig economy. Based on this report, baby boomers:

  • Took the most gigs
  • Earned the highest ratings from customers
  • Tend to do more of the physical labor jobs rather than admin work
  • Made the most money, out-earning millennials by $200+ monthly

The information comes from Wonolo, a company that gig workers can use to find jobs. The report revealed that workers range in age from 18 – 80+.

Why Baby Boomers May Thrive as Gig Economy Workers

If it’s true that baby boomers are the generation thriving most in the gig economy, then what’s causing that? There could be a any number of reasons.

First of all, if you’re Baby Boomer age and looking for work then perhaps you’re very motivated. Maybe you lost your job recently and find it hard to get new traditional work because of persistent ageism. Or perhaps you’re struggling as you support both your adult children and your elderly parents, so you have to take on extra gigs. Either way, you’re motivated to work a lot and earn as much as possible.

However, there could be more to it than that. Some suggestions in The Mercury News article include:

  • Maturity leads to a stronger work ethic and willingness to put in the effort
  • Experience means that you’re able to do the work effectively and efficiently
  • Baby boomers as a whole may be more reliable workers
  • After working other jobs for years, they find the work particularly enjoyable, so they put in the effort
  • With more experience, they may be able to command higher prices even in the gig economy

Are More Millennials Working in the Gig Economy?

The recent report indicates that Baby Boomers are doing better than other generations in the gig economy. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they make up a majority of the side hustle workforce. CBS News reports that nearly half of all working millennials have engaged in gig work for extra income. In contrast, less than 40% of Gen X and barely more than one quarter of Baby Boomers have taken gigs.

Gig Economy Differences Between the Generations

Members of Gen Z, Gen X, Millennials, and Baby Boomers are participate in the gig economy. Therefore, the question might not be who is doing the work but rather what’s the difference between their experiences. Fortune reports on twokey findings:

  • Baby Boomers often take gig jobs for better work-family balance. In contrast, younger generations seek to make more money with gigs as a “second job.”
  • Baby Boomers are most affected by, and worried about, the lack of benefits that come with working in the gig economy.

Deloitte Insights adds some additional information:

  • Millennials in the gig economy often rely on others (such as parents) to help pay some of their expenses. Those who choose the gig economy over a traditional job (instead of in addition to it as a side income) make less than their full-time employed peers.
  • Whereas Baby Boomers tend to get physical gig jobs, millennials often get jobs in admin and the arts. That said, maintenance is also high on the millennial gig list.

It’s also important to recognize that there are many different types of gig work. Some people participate mostly in the sharing economy (driving for Lyft, for example). In contrast, others take contract work in offices or do freelance jobs. The generations may vary in their job choices as well as their reasons for joining the gig economy.

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