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Gig Economy? Most Workers Say 'No Thanks'

Gig Economy? Most Workers Say 'No Thanks'
Credit: Mindscanner/Shutterstock

Despite the growing popularity of the gig economy, most workers say they are hesitant to take jobs with on-demand companies that hire independent contractors rather than full-time employees, according to new research from the career network Beyond.

The study revealed that nearly 70 percent of job seekers said they would either not work at all for an on-demand company, such as Uber or TaskRabbit, or would only consider it depending on their financial situation at the time.

So, what's holding them back? Not being afforded the same type of legal protection and benefits that full-time employees receive are two downsides, workers said. Specifically, 66 percent of those surveyed think that people are scared to leave the traditional workforce to become independent contractors because of the lack of legal rights, such as the right to minimum wage or to unionize, benefits and financial security.

Safety is also a concern for some. The research found that 15 percent of women and 8 percent of men said on-demand jobs are too dangerous. [See Related Story: $100,000 a Year? Freelancing Pays Off For More Workers]

However, there are some aspects of working in the gig economy that job seekers find attractive. More than half of those surveyed said the best part of getting a job with an on-demand company is the flexible schedule. Other appealing aspects include the ability to be your own boss, the exciting business model and the earning potential, they said.

Rich Milgram, CEO of Beyond, said that although on-demand companies are creating unique opportunities, the majority of job seekers would prefer to focus on a full-time job with benefits rather than a short-term job in the gig economy.

"We all love the flexibility that the gig economy offers, but in reality, we need the stability of a full-time position," Milgram said in a statement. "Finding the right mix of the two is what we strive for in life."

Many job seekers think on-demand companies would be better off giving their workers more of an official status. One-third of those surveyed said independent contractors should be considered official employees if they work more than 40 hours per week, while 47 percent think they deserve official employee status no matter what.

Overall, younger job seekers are the most open to working in the gig economy. The study showed that 50 percent of millennials are receptive to working as independent contractors to make money while they search for a new job, compared with 40 percent of Gen Xers and 38 percent of baby boomers.

Millennials were also the most likely generation to moonlight for an on-demand company. Thirty-two percent of the millennials surveyed said they would take a second job as an independent contractor as a way to earn more money. Just 26 percent of Gen Xers and 24 percent of baby boomers were willing to do the same.

The study was based on surveys of more than 5,000 job seekers in the United States.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.