From how we eat at restaurants to how we walk down the street, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Perhaps nothing has been more affected by the pandemic than how we work. In particular, it’s been noted that the gig economy jobs have experienced a wide range of effects, both positive and negative.

Remote work is skyrocketing right alongside unemployment, certain industries are facing extremely tough times, and others are thriving. 

A gig economy is defined by an economy where:

“temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.” 

This can often affect and even disrupt the “traditional” economy of full-time workers. 

Gig Economy Jobs Affected by COVID

Let’s look a bit closer at the different areas of gig economy jobs, how they’ve been affected by COVID so far, and what the future for employers & the gig economy could look like.

Delivery & Food

In general, delivery services of all kinds have been thriving in the pandemic. This could include food, groceries, packages, medications, and even cars!

For example, Instacart, a grocery delivery service, hired over 300,000 new gig employees in a single month alone with orders increasing 500 percent just a few months. Instacart’s CEO reported that the company had experienced three years of projected growth in a period of 30 days.   

It’s not only Instacart, either. An eMarketer study estimates that the online food and beverage industry will grow over 58 percent in the coming year. Collectively, meal delivery services like Grubhub and Doordash have grown in sales by 150 percent year-over-year.

Manual Labor

Demand for manual labor gig workers has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic as well. 

Two prominent gig economy jobs apps reported that their app usage has increased by 25 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, with many manual labor positions offering increased hourly pay rates compared to pre-COVID.

The most in-demand positions listed by these apps include:

  • Warehouse Laborer 
  • Moving Van Driver
  • General Laborers 
  • Packers 
  • Loaders 

How has healthcare been affected by COVID? Learn more in our blog article here.


Unlike the previous two categories, ride-sharing and travel have been hit hard thanks to the pandemic.

Thanks to health restrictions early in the pandemic, many ride-sharing services saw huge declines in ridership, which means less work for the gig workers that drive for these companies. Both Uber and Lyft have reported 75 percent decreases in users

This lead to massive layoffs in both companies along with significant revenue losses that could harm these companies even after the pandemic is over. Uber laid off over 6,700 employees and shut down 45 worldwide offices.


With the unemployment rate peaking at 14.7 percent in April with currently sitting at 8.4 percent, many Americans were forced to rethink their job options.

Branching out from a traditional job to a contract or freelancing gig position was a great option for many, as it allowed for remote & at-home work, flexible hours, and much-needed compensation.

Online contract work websites like Fiverr and Upwork have both reported a huge spike in users (Upwork reported a 50 percent increase) since the pandemic showing that more and more professionals and employers alike are considering the gig economy relevant and applicable to their business models. 

This also shows that it’s no only longer simple, entry-level jobs that are in the gig economy. 

High-level and knowledge-driven positions are becoming available as businesses attempt to save money and as more experienced workers begin looking for gig work after losing their traditional job. 

How Should Employers Adapt to the Gig Economy? 

With corporate profits estimated to have decreased by over 25 percent in 2020, more and more companies are likely going to be hiring and using gig workers in order to save money, which will increase gig economy jobs’ competition & demand. 

You can also expect more candidates to begin pursuing gig work than ever before, which also increases the competition for these positions. 

With much more competition for these types of jobs, employers could expect to see an influx of applications. This makes writing the perfect freelance job description even more important. Google for Jobs has also implemented new tags for their Google job postings that indicate whether the position is “remote” or “temporary” to make it even more clear to candidates during the process.

Adjust to the increased number of applicants by optimizing your job listings to get the right candidates and reduce your chances of looking at irrelevant resumes. 

AI technology can also help filter resumes to identify your target candidates.

Not sure how to properly optimize your post on Google jobs?

Partner with an expert who does. Learn how Jobiak’s recruitment technology can help you perfect your listings.

Something else to keep in mind is the benefits for gig workers. Traditionally, gig or contract workers wouldn’t receive benefits that a W-2 employee would, aka no sick leave, healthcare, mental health benefits, etc. 

New laws are arising, though, that require employers to provide contract and freelance workers certain types of benefits and wage regulations. California’s AB5 Law, for example, entitles these workers to higher wages, insurance, unemployment benefits, and more.

You can attract better freelance and gig workers if you offer better benefits… or benefits at all. This can set you apart from your competition and boost your employer branding — you’ll be known as an organization that cares for all of their workers. 

This is important considering a number of organizations are in hot water for how they treat their gig workers. 

For example, instead of initially providing support for its over 700,000 hosts, Airbnb requested that the travelers (aka its consumer base) send extra money to their hosts. 

Similarly, many employees never received the free safety protection measures that Instacart promised (like masks, gloves, or sanitizer), putting the employees at great risk and putting the company’s reputation in jeopardy.

Learn the 3 Keys to Employer Branding to boost your reputation.

Gig Economy Jobs: A Solution 

One of the best ways an employer can adjust to the changing gig economy jobs is to start with the job listing. 

Optimizing your listings for Google for Jobs will allow you to target candidates and reduce the number of applications through AI filtering/sorting. You’ll be able to optimize the posting to include various Google for Jobs ranking signals, key details like salary, and displaying any new benefits offered to your workers.

Learn more about how you can use Jobiak to easily transition into this brand new world of the gig economy during and post-COVID here.

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