1099 Demographics, Gig Economy Demographics

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1099 Demographics (Median Data)

According to the IRS, the 1099 form applies to independent contractors, who are also referred to as self-employed workers. This is the category of workers who do not have an employer-employee relationship.

Based on the research findings, US self-employed workers who were 65 or older comprised the largest share (24.1%) of all self-employed workers. The median annual income of incorporated self-workers was $49,204, while it was $22,209 for unincorporated workers. According to the latest statistics found, both married men and women (with spouse present) were the highest share of self-employees at 14.1% and 9.1% respectively.

background and methodology

The number of self-employed workers in the US reached 40.9 million in 2017. There are two types of self-employed workers. Incorporated self-employed workers have "created their own corporate identity in the form of a limited liability corporation." Unincorporated self-employed workers are those who are not working through such an entity. Based on the latest government statistics, 36.6% of the total population of self-employed people were incorporated while the remaining 63.4% were unincorporated workers.

The US demographic statistics on 1099 workers have been extracted from government databases, such as the Bureau of Labour Statistics, in all instances except where recent data was not available. In such cases, other credible sources such as industry research reports were referred to in order to find the relevant information.

Demographics of 1099 WORKERS IN THE US


According to the latest available Bureau of Labour Statistics from 2015, the age breakdown of self-employed workers is as follows. It shows the total percentage of the unincorporated and incorporated self-employed workers based on the annual average. Precise information on the median age was unavailable.

16 to 24 years- 2.2% (1.9+0.3)
25 to 34 years- 5.7% (4.1+1.6)
35 to 44 years- 10.1% (6.4+3.7)
45 to 54 years- 11.8% (7.1+4.7)
55 to 64 years- 14.7% (8.8+5.9)
65 years and older- 24.1% (15.5+8.6)

Annual income

According to a 2017 research report by MBO Partners, the average income of a full-time US independent worker (i.e self-employed) was $65,300. Although the median income is not reported, it states that about 1 in 5 full-time independents (about 3.2 million) earn more than $100,000 annually.

Despite extensive searching, I was not able to find recent data for 1099 (self-employed) workers. The latest available figure was from the SBA which shows that in 2014, the median income of incorporated self-employed workers was $49,204, while for unincorporated workers it was $22,209.

Marital status

Between 1975 and 1995, the number of self-employed married women was twice that of single women (8% vs 4%). However, information on this topic was scarce. The latest information I was able to find was from 2012 by the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Married with spouse present: Men- 14.1%, Women- 9.1%
Previously married: Men- 13.0%, Women- 7.7%
Never married: Men- 6.1%, Women- 3.2%


In conclusion, it was found that there were more 1099 workers (self-employed) aged 65 or above in the US than any other age group. The median annual income ranged between $22,209-$49,204. In addition, it was found that married men and women comprised of the highest share of 1099 workers.
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1099 Gig Economy demographics

15% of all workers in the U.S. currently earn income through digital "gig economy" platforms, such as Uber, TaskRabbit, PostMates etc. The median number of weeks per year that gig workers are on the job is 46.7, and the median age of a gig worker is 43. Additionally, 46% use gig jobs as their primary income source, while 54% use gig jobs to supplement their income. Most gig workers earn between $50,000 and $89,999 per year.


We provided data using two reports. The first one is by Aspen Institute published in 2017. The data they use is categorized in medians which is why we use this as a primary source. Data Aspen Institute reports on is from 2014, which is why we cross-referenced it with a more recent source, a report from McKinsey that uses 2016 data.

First, we provide a breakdown by region. South Atlantic has the biggest percentage of gig workers with 19.4%, followed by the Pacific region with 16.0%. In third place is East North Central with 14.9%.

The second breakdown is by industry:

33.9% of gig workers are in the agriculture industry, 35.2% in construction, and 22.0% are in financial activities and in professional services.

The median number of weeks per year that gig workers were on the job is 46.7.

The breakdown by full-time/part-time employment is as follows: 79.9% of gig workers are employed full time, while 17.6% are employed part-time. 46% use gig jobs as their primary income source, while 54% use gig jobs to supplement their income.

When it comes to median income, the numbers are as follows:
18.0% earned under $30,000, 18.1% earned between $30,000 and $49,999, and 27.6% earned between $50,000 and $89,999. Additionally, 13.8% earned from $90,000 to $129,999, and 10.4% earned more than $130,000.

The median age of all gig workers is 43. The mean is 43.4 years.

60% of workers are married, 18.1% are divorced, and 27.7% have never been married.

Currently, the media percentage of gig economy workers who are male and is 60% while 40% are female.

Only 15% of gig workers currently use digital platforms.

The four main segments of gig workers are: free agents that "derive their primary income from independent work and actively choose this
working style," casual earners that "use independent work to supplement their income and do so by choice," reluctant gig workers that "derive their primary income from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs," and financially strapped that "use independent work to supplement their income but would prefer not to have to do side jobs to make ends meet."


A report on 1099 gig economy workers has been broken down by key demographics such as age, gender, annual income, martial status, geographical regions, industry and type of worker.
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Gig Economy Employers

Guru, Lyft, Uber, Freelancer, Task Rabbit, People Per Hour, Upwork, Catalant, Toptal and Fiverr are the top 10 gig economy (online platform) employers in the US.


In order to create this list of the top gig economy employers in the US I searched through a number of recently published lists of top gig economy/online platform companies in the US, such as these from: Recruiter.com, Casual Capitalist, Small Biz Trends and Dyno Mapper. I then searched for the number of active US freelancers each company on these lists currently have, and formated that into my own list based on number of freelancers currently active on the platform in the US.

For many of the companies I searched for, data on number of freelancers in the US was not available as a pre-compiled figure. In most cases, this is because the company does not publish this data. I attempted to triangulate the number of US workers by seeking data such as total number of workers, and percentage from the US, as well as applying regional filters to searches for freelancers on each company's site. However, this was not always possible.

So, in addition to the companies identified where the total number of US workers was available, I have also included extra companies worth noting due to the fact that they appeared in many 'top' lists, and had a large base of freelancers in total.

Top 10 online freelance platforms in the US

1. Guru: 1.8 million (estimated). There is no pre-compiled data telling us how many US workers are active on Guru, however through applying a location filters in the hiring section of their site we can see that there are 1,854,182 active freelancers in the US. In total the company has 3,000,000 active freelancers worldwide.

2. Lyft: 1.4 million (2017). This article tells us the total number of Lyft drivers is 1.4 million, and as Lyft only operate in the US we know that this number is specific to this region.

3. Uber: 327,000 (2015). This source confirms that US specific numbers have not been released since 2015.

4. Freelancer: 84,988 (estimated). Freelancer is another gig economy company that frequently comes up in 'top' lists. However, they do not provide details of how many US Freelancers they hire. In filtering a search through Freelancer's freelancers I found that there are currently 84,988 active in the US.

5. Task Rabbit: 55,000. 55,000 is the total number of taskers currently active on Task Rabbit, and as the platform is only available in the US this means that this is the total number of workers in this region.

6. People Per Hour: 4,912 (estimated). People per hour have 1 million freelancers and clients worldwide. There is no data available online to tell us how many workers from the US there are using this platform, however, through searching on the site we can see that there are currently 4,912 freelancers from the US.

7. Upwork: 9 million (worldwide). No data is available specific to country. No data is available to calculate the number of US freelancers, such as percentage of Upwork freelancers from this region. Upwork does not publish this information.

8. Catalant: 40,000 (worldwide). Catalant has 40,000 workers worldwide. It does not release information on how many come from the US, nor is it possible to calculate this. However, given that Catalant appeared on many of the lists of the top gig economy companies in the US I have included it in this list.

9. Toptal: There is no data available as a pre-compiled figure or as a calculation to tell us how many US freelancers work on Toptal or how many are signed up worldwide. I believe that Toptal does not release this data. However, the company frequently came up in lists of top gig economy companies, and they boast that they hire only the best as only 3% of applicants pass the vetting stages.

10. Fiverr: Again, Fiverr is frequently mentioned 'top' gig economy company in the US. However, this article confirms that the company declines to confirm its number of users. What we do know though is that their number of users is in the millions, and they are mostly from the US, UK, Canada and Australia.


In understanding what types of information are and are not publicly available on this topic, I’ve suggested a few other routes you may be interested in researching. For example, you may wish to know more about trends in skills that are being most commonly sought after in the gig-economy. This source identifies the 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers. You may also wish to know more about the future of freelancing in the US, and demographics of freelancers in this region.


To sum up, the top gig economy (online platform) employers in the US are: Guru, Lyft, Uber, Freelancer, Task Rabbit, People Per Hour, Upwork, Catalant, Toptal and Fiverr.

From Part 01