The term “gig economy” first gained popularity in 2009 during the Great Recession. That’s when newly unemployed workers began taking on several temporary jobs to cobble together an income while they looked for full-time work. Since then, it’s become increasingly common for workers to jettison full-time employment in favor of taking a series of short-term jobs. Google searches for the term have boomed since July 2015.
Up to 15.5 million people — accounting for 10 percent of all employment — rely on contingent and alternative work as their primary source of income, according to a report by talent acquisition software company iCIMS. “The reality is a lot of people are doing it intentionally and because they want to, even workers who are older and more experienced,” said John Wright, iCIMS chief economist.
Yet, despite claims that the gig economy will keep growing and forever change the U.S. economy, there are growing concerns that the gig economy isn’t actually as large as predicted and that, as the U.S. economy improves, more full-time jobs will be created and many gig workers will begin looking for full-time jobs. In fact, two prominent researchers, Alan Krueger of Princeton University and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, recently published a paper warning that they overestimated the impact of the gig economy.
While many gig workers say they prefer the flexibility of taking on contract assignments over holding a 9-to-5 job, they also admit there are downsides to being an independent contractor. Here are 12 things contingent workers are most fearful of in the gig economy.