The gig economy, a hot labour market topic since the financial crisis in 2008, refers to people who trade their time and skills through online platforms (websites or apps), and provide a service to a third party as a form of paid employment.

This report uses unpublished data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey to provide new insights on the scale and nature of the UK’s gig economy. 

This report informs policy-makers about the profile of the gig economy in the UK and offers recommendations for guidance on how to improve employment conditions for those working in the gig economy.

The gig economy: What does it really look like?

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Key findings

Just under half a million people in the UK work in the gig economy, and only a fifth of those see it as their main source of income.

Men working in the UK gig economy are more likely to see it as their main source of income than women.

Ethnic minorities working in the UK gig economy are more likely to see it as their main source of income than those from a white background.

People with disabilities working in the UK gig economy are more likely to see it as their main source of income than those without disabilities.

The non-transportation gig economy in the UK far exceeds the size of the transportation gig economy. It includes manual personal and desk-based services in a plethora of occupations. A large proportion of this group have the gig economy as their side hustle.

Those in the transportation gig economy are more likely to be reliant on it as their main source of income and be self-employed in their main job. We describe this as the ‘visible’ gig economy.

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