The Pandemic is Ending - What it Means for Workers and the Gig Economy

June 10, 2021

The pandemic has had far reaching impacts on the world’s economy - uprooting entire industries while displacing millions of people from their jobs. For the gig economy, it has meant a flood of demand for services that can be delivered to your home - food, groceries, packages and more, which has led to many more earnings opportunities for workers exploring this growing section of the labor force. 

As the pandemic starts to come to an end, it is rapidly shifting the landscape for where people are working, what jobs they’re signing up for and what jobs are paying the most.

The pandemic’s impact on the gig economy in a nutshell

COVID-19 forced many of us to retreat into our homes over the past year and subsequently helped fuel the rapid growth of companies in the gig economy space like Doordash, Shipt, Instacart and GoPuff in addition to the “old guard” platforms of Uber, Lyft and Grubhub. 

After March of 2020, demand for ridesharing fell off a cliff (earnings tanked 26%) while food, grocery and package delivery expanded quickly. Instacart alone added 500,000 shoppers to the platform immediately following the beginning of the pandemic last year.

Ridesharing’s return and Grocery Delivery’s decline

While food, grocery and parcel delivery provided solid earnings during the pandemic, we’re now seeing more and more workers return to ridesharing. In fact, the number of hours per month worked on Uber rose 33% from January to May - now averaging 20 hours/week or roughly 80 hours/month for both Uber and Lyft.

In contrast, the average number of hours worked on platforms like Instacart plummeted - declining 44% since the beginning of the year with shoppers working just 10 hours/week on average in May. This is following the hourly earnings trends (you can always see what each company is paying in Solo’s Jobs Marketplace) in the first half of 2021, where ridesharing has risen quickly to ~$32/hr and grocery delivery has fallen to ~$21/hr on average.



What about food delivery?

Good news - if you enjoy Doordash, Grubhub, UberEats or Postmates (RIP), earnings have remained relatively stable as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. In fact, dashers (Doordash) saw a nice pop in May’s hourly earnings - surpassing $25/hr. Otherwise, UberEats, Grubhub and Postmates have all been relatively flat to start 2021.

Three key takeaways

The past year has been anything but normal, but we’re starting to get an idea of what consumer demand will look like post pandemic. So far, we have three early takes from the data we’re seeing at Solo:

  1. Ridesharing is returning and earnings have been great for drivers
  2. Consumers’ declining demand for grocery delivery is driving lower earnings 
  3. Food delivery has been stable even as people venture back out to restaurants

Our advice

Take advantage of these opportunities to earn more with platforms that are worker constrained. Ridesharing can be a great opportunity to increase your earnings - assuming you’re comfortable with people riding in your car. Diversifying your portfolio of jobs gives you more options if and when the gig economy’s landscape shifts again and allows you to ride more peak demand periods that best fit your schedule.

At Solo, we show you not only which jobs are busiest for every hour of the week, but also predict how much you’re going to earn. Check out our free Earnings Forecast tool to take the anxiety out of gig work and start earning with certainty.



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