According to a new study released by the Angus Reid Institute, more than 40 per cent of Canadian millennials have worked in “the gig economy” over the past five years. That means they’ve been stuck in precarious, freelance or independently-contracted work usually without benefits or a substantial amount of pay. The results of the study revealed that this demographic usually pulled in $50,000 or less.
That is unless you are willing to work gruelling hours like the Uber drivers of the GTA.
The survey found that 42 per cent of males and 45 per cent of females aged 18-34 have worked in the gig economy since 2014. So what defines the millennial generation? While the exact range of birth dates is often debated, the usual time bracket begins in the early 80s and runs up to the early aughts.
Almost half of those surveyed between the ages of 25 and 44 said they “needed” freelance and contract work. Also known as a “side hustle,” this type of employment is often used to bolster a lacklustre full-time salary. Wages in Canada have stagnated significantly, while some of the biggest gains have gone to Canada’s wealthiest.
For the 40 per cent locked into precarious employment, it can feel like a treadmill with little hope of escape. In fact, this year a Vice article entitled “The Gig Economy Screws Over Everyone But the Bosses” which lays bare any myths about this type of work.
Alex Kurth, who has four jobs including bartending at a craft brewery, working as a sound technician, delivering for Foodora and lobbying to unionize bicycle couriers, told Vice: “Companies have realized that they don’t need to have dedicated, salaried, 9-to-5 with benefits employees and just treat everything as gig work. They can get away with that and there seem to be no repercussions. Everybody is a temp, short-term contract, or freelancer.”
“Gig workers face more financial uncertainty than others,” Angus Reid Institute wrote in the report. “Canadians who have relied on the gig economy to make ends meet are much more likely to have annual household incomes below $50,000, are far more likely than other segments of the population to be worried about household job security and are less likely to feel that they are on track to have a comfortable retirement.” This type of piecemeal employment can get especially complicated during tax season.
One common myth that’s busted by the survey is the type of gigs: while the stereotypical contract jobs might be normally thought of as a food deliverer, most millennials in the gig economy reportedly work in “white collar” positions such as computer programmers, graphic designers, and editors. Other popular types of work among respondents include personal assistant services, maintenance or handiwork, and babysitting or house-sitting.
While half of the survey respondents said they were taking on informal work to bring in some extra spending or savings, nearly 30 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to “make ends meet” without it. Meanwhile, 13 per cent of respondents cited a difficulty finding full-time work or having “no other options.”
“Considering the benefits and risks, Canadians are more likely to say that the gig economy is more of a bad trend than a good one for workers,” the Institute stated in the report.
Yes, even millennials need to go to the dentist.