Who are gig economy workers? The definitions and differences between the many names

In 2020, there has been a rise in gig economy workers, partially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. An Upwork survey found that 59 million Americans (or 36% of the total U.S. workforce) freelanced in the past year. There are a handful of interchangeable terms used to describe individuals who participate in the “non-traditional” gig economy. These gig economy workers often enjoy a wider range of earning potential with a more flexible work schedule. Here are the most common labels and definitions used when talking about gig economy workers.

Independent Contractor / Independent Worker / Gig Worker

These are the most common terms we’ve found used when describing an individual who performs independent work. “Independent contractor” is a formal term is used by the Internal Revenue Service to classify workers for income and tax purposes. On the other hand, “independent worker” and “gig worker” are more colloquial and informal.

Independent workers are not hired as an employee to the company that chooses them. They often work on projects or for set periods of time with a desired end result to work toward. Those workers are in charge of their own taxes and benefits – things often

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