Talk about the gig economy typically brings to mind Uber, TaskRabbit, Amazon Mechanical Turk or one of the other targeted online talent platforms that seemingly popup every day. Many business leaders see Uber’s success as a harbinger of a new work paradigm to be applied to other industries and skill sets. They cite those studies about half of the U.S. workforce adopting flexible work engagements within the next decade. They tend to downplay the fact that these estimates overwhelmingly comprise traditional contingent staffing and project-based outsourcing, both of which have grown consistently for decades.
Independent contractors make up a very small percentage of the workforce, and only 8% of Americans earned money from an online work platform last year. The number shrinks even more when shifting focus away from consumer-focused companies like Uber and TaskRabbit. Truly gig-based contractors comprised $5 billion in enterprise revenue last year, a far cry from the $186 billion staffing industry. Put another way, the entire enterprise freelancer industry would rank as the 7th-largest staffing firm.
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