(KUTV) — How big is Utah's gig economy? It's unclear. The Department of Workforce Services isn't able to track how many Utahns participate in it, or how much gig workers make in the Beehive State. On a national scale, surveys from market research firms and food delivery earnings reports show the gig economy exploded during the pandemic and gig workers are making more money now than they did prior to the pandemic.
"Every Job Is Different."
“I love, I’ve loved stage managing since I was a teenager, when I staged managed my first dance concert in high school,” said Laina Thomas, a contract stage manager and rigger.
With thirty-five years of entertainment industry experience, Thomas said she works in the gig economy with multiple jobs paid by multiple employers.
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“The advantages of freelance are that I can choose the jobs that I want to do. I can say no to any job that comes along," she said. “Every job is different.”
Gig Work Goes Virtual, Then National
When the pandemic hit, theaters and convention centers shut down.
For eight months, Thomas collected unemployment.
“There was zero work,” she contended.
Then, everything went virtual.
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Conventions and performances went up on Zoom.
With it, a nationwide market opened up for Thomas' skillset.
She started booking jobs regularly around the country.
A Freelancer's Market
Surveys done by firms like McKinsey, ADP, and JP Morgan Chase Institute show Thomas is not alone.
The gig economy boomed during the pandemic, and gig workers are making more money now than ever before.
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How Big Is Utah's Gig Economy?
Because gig workers don't fill out W2's, Utah Department of Workforce Services can't know how many gig workers operate in the Beehive State and how much they make.
According to MarketWatch, food delivery apps more than doubled their revenue during the pandemic. Uber Eats, for example, reported that globally, people ordered more than $50 billion worth of takeout last year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that approximately 10 percent of U.S. workers have alternative working arrangements.
For Thomas, she is expressing gratitude for the groups of professionals she works with and who have been booking her on their productions.
“I feel great," she said, "and that’s a lot better than how I felt during the pandemic.”