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New Report Shows U.S. Gig Workers Hit Hard by COVID-19 with Nearly 3 out of 5 Now Earning Less than $1,000 per Month

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The United States Spotlight is fifth in a series of Flourish’s year-long global study of more than 3,000 gig workers from Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and the U.S., all countries with some of the largest and fastest-growing gig economies. In August 2020, Flourish partnered with digital worker platform company Steady to better understand how U.S. gig workers’ financial lives were impacted and their hopes and concerns for the future.

Gig workers in the U.S., employed in service roles, such as e-hailing and delivery, were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 68% reporting a decline in total income. Nearly 3 out of 5 workers earned less than $1,000 per month, compared to 1 in 5 before the lockdown. A majority of U.S. respondents – 89% – were concerned about COVID-19, and at the time of the survey, respondents were most worried about the impact to their livelihoods, although health risks were also a meaningful concern. 

“With the onset of COVID-19 and the accompanying economic fallout, our research found that the majority of workers in the digital gig economy are living on the edge, piecing together temporary and inconsistent work and struggling to make ends meet,” explained Emmalyn Shaw, managing partner at Flourish. “The pandemic and ensuing economic dislocation significantly impacted this population and highlighted their limited financial resilience.”

Steady CEO Adam Roseman said, “As COVID-19 continues to redefine nearly every aspect of daily life, earning a stable income is much harder to achieve for tens of millions of hourly and gig workers. Consistent and coordinated government and private-sector support will be needed.” 

Black and Latinx Communities Disproportionately Impacted

Fifty-nine percent of respondents reported that if they lost their main source of income, they could not cover household expenses for a month without borrowing money. Black and Latinx communities were disproportionately impacted by the crisis, evidenced by respondents’ high levels of concern and the heavier burden of supporting additional financial dependents. Black workers were hit the hardest financially, with 61% now earning less than $1,000 per month.

Worker Sentiment and Financial Impact Vary by City

The United States Spotlight reveals that worker sentiment and financial impact varied meaningfully by city, depending on the regional course of the pandemic. In Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia, more than half of the workers reported a large fall in income, while San Francisco workers, who also reported a large income decline, indicated a somewhat more positive outlook. In New York, workers reported less economic hardship and lower levels of concern.

Yet, U.S. gig workers showed signs of grit and resilience as they coped with the economic impact of the crisis:

  • 63% used savings and 55% borrowed money, combining loans from multiple sources, with a heavy reliance on friends and family.
  • 39% found new or additional work, with over a third of new work coming from online or app-based platforms.
  • Of the 62% who reduced consumption, half cut back on food.

Some Relief with Financial Aid

In the U.S., government relief payments through the CARES Act were a lifeline for many. 

  • 77% of respondents received financial aid through the CARES Act, and while still struggling, these recipients had stronger financial resilience, less decline in quality of life, and a greater sense of hope.
  • More than half of respondents applied for unemployment benefits since the crisis began, although most struggled to navigate the application process. For most, finding work with better pay is their top financial goal.

To read the full United States Spotlight report, visit: https://flourishventures.com/perspectives/the-digital-hustle-gig-worker-financial-lives-under-pressure-us-spotlight-2020/

“The important role that gig workers play in our society cannot be overemphasized,” said Shaw. “As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of the current crisis, financial institutions, fintechs, and policymakers have an opportunity to learn from our most vulnerable workers and identify financial services that will help them survive this crisis and thrive in the future.”

About Flourish
Flourish is a global venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs whose innovations advance financial health and prosperity for individuals and small businesses. Our global fintech portfolio includes more than 60 high-growth companies offering a range of leading-edge financial services including, in the U.S., challenger bank Chime, gig worker platform Steady, next-gen home insurance company Kin, and FreshEBT, an app for SNAP recipients, among many others. We partner with industry thought leaders in research, policy, and regulation to better understand the underserved and help foster a fair and more inclusive economy. Visit us at flourishventures.com or join our community through TwitterLinkedIn or Facebook.

SOURCE Flourish Ventures



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Here’s how you can turn your volunteering gig into paid work

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We talk to Volunteering Australia for some tips 

It’s no secret that volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community and a cause you’re passionate about, make friends, and broaden your networks and skillbase.

There’s also a chance that with a bit (or a lot) of hard work, time, and passion, your volunteering job can turn into paid work. 

But is there a right and a wrong way to go about doing this? We asked the CEO of Volunteering Australia, Mark Pearce, for some advice. 

Volunteer more than once 

It’s important to keep in mind that giving one random day of your time to a charity probably won’t land you an instant job. These things take a level of personal investment, so find a volunteering opportunity you enjoy, and stick to it.  

“Potential employers will view an ongoing volunteering role as having more likely impacted on skills development and work experience,” Pearce says. 

Be on the lookout for opportunity

Staying open minded about your experience as a volunteer is critical. If you go in expecting to get paid at the end of it, you’ll probably be disappointed. Instead, Pearce says you should keep your eyes and ears open for new contacts or opportunities that will help you find an entry point into the organisation. 

“Job seekers need to be mindful of the potential opportunities to gain work experience or to develop skills as part of the volunteering experience,” he explains.  

View it as a chance for self development 

The job market is particularly competitive at the moment and it’s easy to feel defeated when you’ve been knocked back from all the jobs you’re applying for. 

But volunteering comes with a whole range of benefits and can help you feel more motivated, confident and industrious when looking for work.

“Volunteering may assist in ‘levelling the playing field’ for individuals who typically have a more difficult time finding employment, especially during a recession or if lacking experience in a particular industry or role,” Pearce says. 



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Finding health insurance a headache for gig workers | Mid-Missouri News

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COLUMBIA – When Amy Crousore decided to become a full-time musician 3 years ago, she never imagined a pandemic would dry up her business.

Now, 8 months into the global health crisis, Crousore is reflecting on the struggles of the gig industry.

“Everything shut down and there was just no back up for us,” she said.

She said many of her colleagues were already taking day jobs before the pandemic just so they could receive health insurance.

Crousore has also taken up a job as a caretaker to make ends meet until venues reopen.

“We compared about 12 different healthcare plans,” she said. “I considered whether I would have to take a loan to pay for a more expensive plan.”

Health insurance is a headache Jason Gruender and Jen Wheeler know well.

Gruender manages Liberty Family Medicine with his wife, a doctor.

Wheeler manages Big Tree Medical Home with her husband, also a doctor.

Both clinics operate through unconventional business models that are less reliant on traditional insurance plans. Instead, you pay for a membership or one-time fees.

“We believe in our model, and it’s working well across the nation, and it’s working well here in Columbia,” Wheeler said.

Gruender is also confident in his clinic.

“I think we have a broken health care system,” he said. “The clinic is not a complete solution to that problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

As the world navigates a pandemic, the path to affordable health care has been riddled with troubles.

Crousore worries necessities like health care will alter the landscape of the music industry.

“Do you want there to be nobody you can call to play for your wedding because everybody is working 40 hours a week to get insurance,” Crousore asked. “What kind of world do you want?”

Gruender and Wheeler also said choosing a health insurance plan is an important decision that should be given lots of thought.

Enrollment through the Affordable Care Act is open right now and closes Dec. 15. There are other enrollment periods for special life events, such as getting married.

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Pendulum swings back to break lockdown lull with hometown New Year’s gig

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“During the whole lockdown thing it’s been kind of hard to put an original stamp on a set or a piece of live music; everyone’s been playing from their living rooms, everyone’s playing next to the f—ing fridge, so we had to come up with something new.”

The end result, an hour-long live-streamed performance at Spitbank Fort, was broadcast in October and also heralded the drum ‘n’ bass outfit’s first new material in a decade; the double-A side Driver/Nothing For Free.

Not being able to perform live has other pitfalls; even with their show at Spitbank Fort and a well-received global release, the group’s new material still hasn’t been tested in front of crowds.

“When we’re getting ready to release something always a huge component of it is playing it to small audiences, or sometimes even big audiences, and getting a lot of feedback from that, especially when it comes to Rob doing final mixdowns and stuff,” McGrillen said.

“That’s one thing we’ve definitely missed.”

Pendulum will be able to break free from the bonds of live-streaming soon and give crowds a full dose of new music with a homecoming headline slot at Perth’s Origin Fields New Year festival.

Billed as ‘Pendulum Trinity’ the group’s founding members – Swire, Gareth McGrillen and Paul ‘El Hornet’ Harding – are the first headliners announced alongside Australian house heavyweight Dom Dolla.

Based in the UK, McGrillen and Swire are very much ready to “do the whole quarantine thing” and fly to Perth to join Harding, who lives in the group’s hometown. With coronavirus cases soaring around the world, it seems there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

“Perth’s the safest place in the world right now,” McGrillen said.

It’s been a long time between drinks on the new music front, with Swire and McGrillen splitting off to form the electro/bass-driven Knife Party after Pendulum’s last album, Immersion, was released in 2010.

Pendulum shows continued, primarily driven by Harding, and when live shows returned in 2016, so did the ideas for new music under the Pendulum banner.

As with anything released in 2020, it’s tempting to read into the new tunes as inspired by the trash-fire year that was, but Swire said the roots of Driver/Nothing For Free came as early as 2016.

“I think current events might have added 20 per cent angst to the sound,” he said.

“Ten years is a nice round number and I sort of feel if you get away longer than that, you may as well not bother … we’d been doing the Knife Party thing for about 10 years, we always feel like switching it up.”

And while 2020 marks the first new Pendulum music in a decade, it is also another milestone; 15 years since the group’s explosive debut album, Hold Your Colour.

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The release still holds a special place for fans and the group alike – “the tracks on it still feel kind of magic,” Swire said – but at the time the trio didn’t know whether they had a hit or a flop on their hands.

“It was a weird time for us, we’d only been in England for about two years when we wrote it. In retrospect, it’s kind of the sound of culture shock and sleep deprivation,” Swire said.

“I think the first time we knew this whole thing had some longevity to it was when we made the next album (2008’s In Silico).

“We sort of switched the style and it still works and we thought, ‘Well, we’re onto something’, because we’ve brought all these new fans in who don’t even like drum ‘n’ bass.”

There’s a temptation, listening to Driver/Nothing For Free, to draw parallels between the tracks and the distinct styles between Pendulum’s earlier releases.

Driver, as the name suggests, is a fast-paced drum ‘n’ bass anthem; a heavy, rolling beat setting the pace for buzzsaw basslines interspersed with breakbeat clatters. Nothing For Free, on the other hand, features sing-along hooks rising to a rocking, headbanging crescendo, reminiscent of the outfit’s later albums.

So, is this a conscious effort? Or a by-product of almost two decades producing forward-thinking, genre-blending electronic hits?

The latter, largely.

Swire and McGrillen agreed they never intended to follow their earlier work too closely, but when inspiration strikes, well, sometimes it just pans out that way.

“It somehow just organically falls into either [style]; you get a sense halfway through, you get a sense like, ‘This sounds like kind of a Hold Your Colour tip’, or you can tell it’s a new style,” Swire said.

Pendulum will perform at Langley Park on Perth’s foreshore on New Year’s Eve. Tickets and information at originfields.com.au.

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