The total impact of Covid-19 on gig economy workers is not yet known, but more needs to be done to collect information on workers in the gig economy, according to a report released today by Statistics Canada.
Gig workers include self-employed freelancers, on-demand online workers and day laborers; they represented between 8% and 10% of all Canadian workers in 2016, according to the report, “The impact of Covid-19 on the gig economy: Short- and long-term concerns.”
One concern in the report: Right now, the effect of Covid-19 on these workers is difficult to assess because they cannot be identified in any of the main sources of employment data.
“The main challenge for analysts in the coming years is to continue to improve the methodology and timeliness of measuring the gig economy in Canada and assessing the financial well-being of [gig workers] and their families,” according to the report.
Statistics Canada noted as the previous recession hit, the gig economy did increase from 6.0% of the workforce in 2008 to 6.8% of the workforce in 2009. Still, it’s unclear whether the current recession could prompt a shift.
Gig workers are also being impacted differently by the Covid-19 crisis. Gig workers in the “professional, scientific and technical services” sector may be able to continue providing services, whereas, others may not, such as those in the “arts and entertainment,” sector. And ride-share drivers may be impacted as companies limit operations or because of a reduced number of riders.
On top of this, some gig workers may not be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
The report cited data from 2016 that found gig workers were equally split between those that did it to supplement their incomes and those who relied upon it as their main source of earnings.
The majority of gig workers’ earnings did not exceed C$5,000 per year. However, for more than a quarter of gig workers, their gig earnings represented all their annual earnings and more than 89% of their total annual income.