Everyone Thought The Gig Economy Was Taking Over. Turns Out It’s Not

June 8, 2018, 9:01 AM UTC

First, the gig economy was taking over.

Now, it appears that expectations of its increasing influence on the U.S. labor market were largely overblown.

According to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of individuals employed as independent contractors has actually dropped in the last 12 years. The data shows that contract workers comprised 6.9% of the labor market in May 2017, down from 7.4% in February 2005, which was the last time the survey was taken.

There is one slight exception: according to one economist’s analysis of the data, those who work in transportation—such as driving for Uber or Lyft—have seen an increase. The share of temp workers have also remained more or less steady.

Overall, 10.1% of Americans have ‘alternative’ work arrangements, a term that includes independent contractors, on-call workers, and people working for third-party contractors. That means approximately 90% of working Americans have traditional jobs—a percentage largely unchanged from 2005.

The data may need to be taken with a grain of salt, however. The Wall Street Journal points out that the survey required that the worker needed to have done that work in the past week for it to count in the survey. It also asked about the worker’s “main job,” so side hustles would not constitute part of the data.