Gig workers account for approximately 25 to 35% of the national workforce. When considering workers earning low to moderate incomes (LMI), these percentages are likely higher. Gig work provides reported advantages including flexibility, supplemental income, and independence. However, it also brings unique financial challenges such as complicated taxes, low and unpredictable wages, and difficulty accessing benefits. Due to these barriers to financial security, gig workers are often unable to build an emergency savings reserve.
Commonwealth launched the Financial Benefits Project pre-pilot to further explore the financial needs of gig workers and to outline recommendations for employer benefits that reduce the impact of income volatility. In combination with schedule stability and predictable wages, income volatility benefits have the potential to help workers earning LMI manage from day to day, particularly given the reduction of COVID-19 supports.
Across two cohorts, Commonwealth evaluated the impact of three interventions on financial hardships for 138 gig workers enrolled in the project. Participants were eligible for up to $1,000 in funds over a four-month period through weekly stipends, emergency grants, and emergency loans.