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The Basics

A freelance graphic designer earns $25,000 for an ad campaign. A teacher drives for Uber on the weekends. An electrician owns and operates a successful small business. A stay-at-home mom sells Mary Kay cosmetics on Facebook. A recent immigrant cleans houses under the table. A retired woman knits hats to sell at craft fairs.

What do these workers have in common? Each of them is engaged in some form of independent work, or what some call "gigs." Unlike traditional employer-employee relationships, which most expect to last, independent work is often short-term or project-based. It takes many forms, and a diverse range of individuals engage in it across industries throughout the United States. Measuring and understanding independent or gig work has proven a challenge. Many sources of information exist, but they often seem to present conflicting numbers, and it can be hard to know where to turn for accurate answers.

The pages in this section of the Data Hub consolidate different sources of information and address basic questions about gig work: what it is, how many people participate in it, what their experiences are. We seek to provide answers to common questions and present a clear picture of the state of the gig economy today.