The economic consequences of COVID-19 are far-reaching as all companies take precautions with budget cuts and layoffs. One group that has been vastly affected by the coronavirus outbreak is gig workers, a growing global community of workers who are self-employed. Most gig workers are contractors, which means that they do not have access to employee rights such as paid leave, a right that proves essential in a pandemic.
AppJobs surveyed gig workers from 58 countries in March to analyze the shifts in demand within different job categories and to see how they are dealing with the crisis financially. Over 50% of gig workers that were questioned claimed that they lost their source of income in February and March. Only 30% of gig workers claimed that they have enough savings to live on.
As uncertainty continues, gig workers can only hope that the situation will improve – and fast. Nikki, a gig worker from Philadelphia who had to stop driving with Uber and Lyft said that she lost over 95% of her income in a matter of days. Nikki had to give up driving because she didn’t want to put her daughter who has asthma under risk if she was to catch the virus. Nikki is not alone, gig workers that participated in AppJobs’ survey said that they are forced to make a decision between losing their source of income and risking infecting themselves and their families with the virus. Many gig workers cannot find new jobs to replace their gig jobs, so their only option is to continue working. The current state of the job market is of no help: as more industries shut down and people are being let go, gig workers are having difficulty finding alternative ways of making money. According to AppJobs Institute, due to self-isolation, the demand shifted to the delivery and online jobs
The situation might still get worse for gig workers like Nikki. The majority of gig workers face more financial uncertainty in the months to come, especially as quarantine measures tighten around the world. With fewer people that want to take rides and no pets to sit, no one knows what the near future withholds for gig workers across all industries. The survey results show that most gig workers are or had been employed in the restaurant, tourism, cleaning, customer service, rideshare and transportation industries, which are among the most negatively affected. The survey results also show that the majority of gig workers are far from satisfied with the support they have received from their companies so far.
Gig workers are self-employed, which makes them an exposed group who very seldom have the right to support from the government or a company. We at AppJobs are working hard to help our members find new gig jobs, and new ways into the labor market, says the CEO of AppJobs, Alok Alström.
75% of the gig workers AppJobs surveyed claim that the gig companies they work for have been of no help in this time of crisis. Gig workers need more help now than ever. They feel unprotected, vulnerable and overlooked. Many companies bulk-send hygiene tips to workers on their apps and recommend DIY measures to self-isolate while working, but this is not the support gig workers are looking for. Gig workers expect support from both gig companies and the government. They want financial help, paid sick days, insurance, tax reduction and stimulus checks so that they don’t have to expose themselves to the virus because they cannot afford to stop working. Gig workers like Nikki don’t want to have to choose between their jobs or their families’ health, and they shouldn’t have to.