Revealing The True Size Of Australia’s Gig Workforce

The Andrews Labor Government is helping shine more light on Australia’s gig economy, with new research showing that 7 per cent of working Australians have used a digital platform over the past twelve months to access work.

A survey jointly conducted by Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide and University of Technology Sydney is Australia’s largest ever published survey regarding the on-demand economy.

Released today, the survey of more than 14,000 people was commissioned by the Labor Government to support the Victorian Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce.

While there has been much debate about the gig economy and how it is regulated, until now little has been known about its size or the characteristics of the workforce.

The findings provide insight into the size of the gig economy and the people working within it, including:

  • That 7.1 per cent of respondents use a digital platform for work, or have done so in the past 12 months
  • Many platform workers rely on income from gig work – 15.5 per cent consider it “essential for meeting their basic needs”. A further 24.3 per cent say it is an “important part of overall income, but not essential”.
  • Younger people and males are working through digital platforms in higher proportions than other demographic groups. Women are half as likely as men to work on digital platforms.
  • Respondents in regional areas are less likely to have done platform work than respondents in a major city.
  • A wide variety of people seek work through digital platforms, including people who are living with a disability, temporary residents, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • Platform workers surveyed were highly satisfied with the flexibility of gig work but were less satisfied that the income they received was fair.

Chaired by Natalie James, the Victorian Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce was announced in September 2018 to address concerns about the gig economy. The preliminary survey findings are available at engage.vic.gov.au/inquiry-on-demand-workforce.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Tim Pallas

“It’s clear the gig economy affects many Australians and many Victorians. It’s why we’re pushing ahead with our inquiry and leading the way in responding to the challenges of this sector.”

“According to these findings, many Australians are relying on gig work to make a living. It’s crucial these workers have the right to fair pay and safe working conditions.”

Quotes attributable to Inquiry Chair Natalie James

“Until now, we haven’t had reliable data about the size of the gig economy or the way in which workers are accessing digital platforms.”

“The Victorian Government’s investment in this survey reinforces our commitment to take an evidence-based approach to considering the impact of this way of working in our labour market.”