Gen Z Gig Workers Saw Greatest Increase in Hourly Earnings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gen Z Gig Workers Saw Greatest Increase in Hourly Earnings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Older gig workers still make more per hour and take on more work on average, according to new findings
Warehouse gig worker scanning inventory

Amid the Great Resignation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, American workers are finding that they have more options to choose from when it comes to how they make a living. As a result, many have turned to gig work, due to the flexibility and greater earning potential that it offers.

In a new report, on-demand staffing platform Wonolo revealed that when it comes to frontline opportunities in today's gig economy (in industries like warehousing and food production), Gen Z workers (ages 20 to 24) saw the greatest increase in hourly earnings on the Wonolo platform — 11% — compared to other generations between 2019 and 2021.

Seasoned gig workers have higher hourly and monthly earnings

With the nationwide labor shortage currently affecting American businesses, workers are able to negotiate better terms and rates with the companies they work for. The Wonolo report showed that, at $15.68, millennials (ages 25 to 40) are now tied with Gen X workers (ages 41 to 56) for the highest average hourly earnings on the platform. These generations increased their earnings by 9% (from $14.39) and 7% (from $14.63), respectively, in that same 2019 to 2021 period.

In comparison, baby boomers (ages 57 to 75) saw the least improvement in earnings among generations, earning an average of $15.46 per hour (only up about 6% from $14.63). The 11% increase for the youngest workers brought their average hourly earnings up from $14.02 to $15.62.

At $352 a month, Gen X gig workers finding work on Wonolo made more money on average than other generations. The study also found that:

  • Baby boomers took home an average of $331 per month
  • Millennials took home an average of $228 per month
  • Gen Z workers took home an average of $151 per month

Younger workers increasingly drawn to gig work during the COVID-19 pandemic

A recent survey from MBO Partners found that the independent workforce increased by 34% since last year, with younger and female workers making up a significant percentage of new freelancers.

And with another survey from Upwork pointing out that a fifth of employed Americans (20%) are considering a transition into freelance work, the number of U.S. independent workers may grow even larger in the months ahead.

In fact, Wonolo found that millennials (53%) currently make up the largest percentage of gig workers on its platform. However, the Gen Z cohort is growing quickly: The report found that it was the only generation to increase its share of the gig workplace between 2019 and 2021, from 8% to 22%. And as more of Gen Z enters the workforce, that percentage is only expected to grow further.

But even though younger workers have made impressive moves over the past two years, older workers still complete more gig jobs on average than their younger counterparts. More specifically, the Wonolo study indicated that:

  • 20% of baby boomers do more than two gigs per week on the platform
  • 20% of Gen X workers do more than two gigs per week
  • 11% of millennials do more than two gigs per week
  • 6% of Gen Z workers do more than two gigs per week

Methodology: The data for this report came from over 300,000 jobs on the Wonolo platform and 27,000 workers across the United States, except California. The data was posted on the site between January and June 2021; the company pulled and analyzed the data in August 2021.