The generational differences among gig-economy workers

Different age groups tend to vary in terms of their motivations and financial challenges

The generational differences among gig-economy workers

A new report on gig economy workers in the US surveyed by BMO Wealth Management suggests that boomers, millennials, and Gen Xers have distinct outlooks and reasons for working in the gig economy.

Across all respondents, the top four reasons for embracing the gig economy were to make money on the side (55%), balance career and family needs (48%), have autonomy and control (48%), and to make an income in the absence of other means to do so (22%).

Drilling down further into each generation, the numbers showed differences in their respective primary reasons for becoming a gig worker. Baby boomers were more likely than the other groups to say it was the only way to earn a living or income (34%), which may be in addition to their retirement income. Millennials, meanwhile, were more likely to say they’re looking for money on the side (58%) or working that way until a better job comes along (23%).

“Generation-Xers valued balancing career and family needs more than the other groups (55%), perhaps because they are at the stage in life where it is common to be raising a family while supporting aging parents,” the report said.

When asked about the difficulties they face, 69% of respondents overall cited the lack of benefits, making it the top challenge. Other concerns included not getting paid when sick (48%), not earning enough (43%), not being profitable (41%), and accumulating debt (27%).

“Generational differences emerged with respect to the challenges of working in the gig economy,” the report said. The lack of benefits was more likely to be a concern for boomers (77%), which the report attributed to increased risk of disability or illness that comes with age. Meanwhile, millennials (53%) and generation Xers (47%) were more likely than boomers (37%) to worry about not getting paid if they get sick.

“At their stage in life they may find themselves trying to manage multiple financial priorities, whereas boomers have had longer working careers and therefore more time to accumulate assets that they can fall back on if needed,” the report said.