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89% of Americans Don’t Even Know What the ‘Gig Economy’ Is

Uber Taxi App In MadridUber Taxi App In Madrid
Not all Americas are connected to the new digital economy.Photograph by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez via Getty Images

Sharing and on-demand services are reshaping the modern economy, changing the relationship between people, their jobs, and their employers. But the effects of this shift vary widely, and not every American is up to date on the new digital economy or its lingo.

Nearly 28% of Americans say they have not used any major shared or on-demand platforms. On top of that, 73% aren’t familiar with the term “sharing economy,” and 89% aren’t familiar with the term “gig economy,” according to a new national Pew Research Center survey.


To put it in perspective, 15% of Americans have used ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, but twice as many have never even heard of these services. Half of the 4,787 people surveyed hadn’t heard of home-sharing sites like Airbnb or VRBO. Only 11% of people surveyed had used one.

The use of these “new digital economy” platforms is highly concentrated among a certain type of demographic: college graduates, those with relatively high household incomes, and those under the age of 45. Urban and suburban dwellers are also twice as likely to have participated in the on-demand economy than rural residents.