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More needs to be done to collect information on gig workers: Statistics Canada

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May 20, 2020

The total impact of Covid-19 on gig economy workers is not yet known, but more needs to be done to collect information on workers in the gig economy, according to a report released today by Statistics Canada.

Gig workers include self-employed freelancers, on-demand online workers and day laborers and represented between 8% and 10% of all Canadian workers in 2016, according to the report, “The impact of Covid-19 on the gig economy: Short- and long-term concerns.”

One concern in the report: Right now, the effect of Covid-19 on these workers is difficult to assess because they cannot be identified in any of the main sources of employment data.

“The main challenge for analysts in the coming years is to continue to improve the methodology and timeliness of measuring the gig economy in Canada and assessing the financial well-being of [gig workers] and their families,” according to the report.

Statistics Canada noted the gig economy did increase from 6.0% of the workforce in 2018 to 6.8% of the workforce in 2009 as the previous recession hit. Still, it’s unclear whether the current recession could prompt a shift.

Gig workers are also being impacted differently by the Covid-19 crisis. Gig workers in the “professional, scientific and technical services” sector may be able to continue providing services. Other, such as those in the “arts and entertainment” sector may not. And ride-share drivers may be impacted as companies limit operations or because of a reduced number of riders.

On top of this, some gig workers may not be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.

The report cited data from 2016 that found gig workers were equally split between those that did it to supplement their incomes and those who relied upon it as their main source of earnings.

The majority of gig workers’ earnings did not exceed C$5,000 per year. However, for more than a quarter of gig workers, their gig earnings represented all their annual earnings and more than 89% of their total annual income.

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6 Gig Economy Jobs Perfect for Military Spouses

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The gig economy is an area where military spouses can thrive. For all of the reasons that the rest of the world shy away from Independent Contractor jobs, military spouses rush towards them. Flexible hours? Yes, please. Work from anywhere? Sounds great. No benefits? Don’t really need those.

For the past few years, the military spouse employment issue has been offset just a bit by the gig economy. Companies like Instant Teams and Wise Advise + Assist have made it their mission to connect military spouses with jobs in the gig economy. And it’s working.

While a gig economy job may not be the long term career solution you ultimately want, it’s great if you’re looking to make some cash while staying flexible.

Interested in a gig economy job? Here are six of them that military spouses should consider.

Millie Scout

If you’re a military spouse with some experience moving and a desire to help other spouses iron out the details of their next move, you may enjoy becoming a Millie Scout. With an average pay of $50 to $75 per job you can put your social media and tech skills to work performing tasks like reviewing houses and neighborhoods, checking in on rental properties and walking through properties for your fellow military spouse. This gig economy job can move with you and you’ll be connected with over 130 other Scouts to help you grow your professional network.

Virtual Assistant

Many military spouses have discovered the potential for jobs as a virtual assistant (VA). What does a virtual assistant do? Almost anything, but typically the time-consuming and sometimes tedious tasks that business owners and other people are too busy to do well. These tasks range from data entry to answering emails to transcription.

If you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant, there’s a free online class designed by military spouse Esther Inman. Inman’s website also has tips to land VA jobs, and she adds resources via social media almost every day.

Online English Teacher

The option of teaching English online has made its way through all of the military spouse groups, but it is still a good option. From VIPKid to Cambly to Boxfish, there are many options. If you don’t have a degree or experience, Cambly is the one for you. They pay $0.17 a minute and you can work as much as you want. (Hourly that comes out to about $10.)

VIPKid, where you can teach one-on-one or group lessons, pays from $14 to $22 an hour, based on your availability and experience within the company. Of course, you’re teaching children in another time zone, so this may not work for everyone.

Boxfish is another option for teaching English to Chinese students. You can teach on-demand or scheduled classes with up to four students and each $10 per 25-minute session. Both VIPKid and Boxfish require a degree and some teaching experience.

Freelance Writer

There are varying degrees of freelance writers, some who freelance full time and some who write just a few pieces a month. Either way, if you’re interested in writing within the military spouse community, check out newly revamped NextGen MilSpouse.

NextGen focuses on the challenges of today’s milspouse entrepreneur. They are looking for the best of the best within the writing community as they are a trusted resource. They pay $50 per guest post, which is pretty standard within the milspouse community. Check out what they’re looking for specifically on their website.

Delivery Driver

One new(ish) gig economy job is driving for Shipt or Instacart. Just like the other jobs, you can set your own hours, choose when and where you want to take orders. Veteran spouse Shauna Hill says it’s a great way for her to get out of the house when her husband is home and still make some money. Hill drives for Shipt.

“The pay is pretty decent too, the more work you put in the better you get paid. You will start to gain “regular” customers based on how they rate you as a shopper. The better your rating the more orders you are offered. It’s hard to put an average rate on it, but I typically get about $15-20 an order and it takes about an hour to complete most shops and deliveries.”

PCS Mentor

If you are looking for a way to help military spouses during their PCS, another option is to become a PCS Mentor with MilHousing Network. By connecting with spouses throughout the PCS process, you’ll be able to help them with things besides buying or selling a home. This position is great for the military spouse who likes to connect with others, makes friends easily and has personal experience with finding a rental home or buying/selling a home.

Gig economy jobs come in all forms. Some of them may lead to longer, more permanent jobs and some may be good just for a season. Just like some houses and some duty stations.

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–Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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