With Uber and Airbnb, self-employed people are happy, but …

by bold-lichterman

Nearly 162 million workers in the United States and Europe now have self-employed status, or 20 to 30% of the working population in these two geographic areas, according to the study “Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy»Performed by McKinsey. Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, the American consulting firm wanted to learn more about this category of workers today little known, and determine whether or not they were satisfied with their situation.

The Anglo-Saxon press is indeed talking more and more of “gig economyTo qualify these “freelance jobs” or “odd jobs” that have emerged in recent years under the impetus of platforms such as Uber or AirBnB, or in FoodTech Deliveroo and Foodora, to name only the most famous. The term, which means concert in English, refers to the precarious status of musicians, who accumulate contracts without having a fixed job. Are new self-employed workers really benefiting from the collaborative economy?

Note, in its definition of self-employed, McKinsey includes freelancers, Uber drivers, the equivalent of French auto-entrepreneurs, but also individuals who rent their property on AirBnB.

A little more than half of the self-employed are also employees

The authors of the study defined four main profiles of self-employed workers:

  • The “free agents, who have voluntarily chosen to become self-employed and for whom self-employment is the main source of income, which represent 30% of cases.
  • The “casual earners, who resort to self-employment to supplement their income, which accounts for 40% of the total. This is the most common profile.
  • The “reluctant, who derive the largest share of their income from self-employment but who would prefer to have a salaried position, 14% of cases.
  • And finally the “financially strapped, forced to have recourse to self-employment in addition to another job to meet their charges, which represent 16% of cases.

First observation, nearly a third of the self-employed are now subject to their status, and would prefer to have a salaried job allowing them to meet their needs. If they are in the minority, this still represents 49 million people in the United States and Europe, if we are to believe McKinsey estimates.

Then, 56% of the self-employed derive the majority of their income from a salaried activity in parallel with their assignments as self-employed, and “only” 28% of them are forced to have recourse to this type of assignment to financial reasons.

At the same time, it should be noted that 70% of respondents chose this status because of the autonomy and flexibility that characterize it. Nearly one in six employees would even like to ultimately derive most of their income from the assignments they carry out as a self-employed person.

In France, 61% of the self-employed have a salaried job at the same time

mckinsey-gig-economy-oct2016-3If we consider the case of France, the consulting firm estimates that there are currently 13 million self-employed workers. To compare, INSEE estimated the French working population at 28.7 million people in 2015 (nldr).

In France, a little more than a third would be “casual earners“, And 29% of”free agents“. The proportion of “financially strappedIs slightly above average, with 21% of the self-employed in this case. Conversely, the “reluctant»Are proportionally less numerous (10% of cases). Almost 7 out of 10 self-employed have thus voluntarily chosen this status, and 61% of them have a salaried activity in parallel.

It should be noted that it is in Spain that the self-employed status seems the most suffered, with 42% of “reluctant“Or”financially strapped“. Barely 52% of the self-employed consider their assignments as an additional source of income.

The regularity and level of income, the main reason for dissatisfaction

In terms of job satisfaction, it is not surprising that the self-employed who have chosen their status voluntarily (the majority of cases therefore) are much more satisfied with their working conditions than the others. Among the elements that push the “casual earners»To have recourse to independent work in parallel with their employment, one finds autonomy, the work atmosphere, the fact of being his own boss, flexible working hours and the possibility of working where one wishes it.

Conversely, self-employed workers who have not chosen their status deplore the lack of income security, and a level of remuneration that they consider low. On the other hand, they appreciate the content of their assignments, their autonomy, the working atmosphere, as well as the flexibility that characterizes self-employment (hours and place of work).


Platforms, real facilitators for the self-employed

Finally, the last finding of the study, digital technology and more particularly the advent of platforms have profoundly changed the way self-employed workers organize themselves. Access to a much larger potential customer base, information accessible in real time, more relevant connections: the advantages of these platforms have already convinced nearly 15% of freelancers, and this is only the beginning if we McKinsey believes.

Finally, it is the self-employed who sell or rent physical goods who use this type of platform the most (63% and 36% respectively).

SEE the full study:

** Methodology: study conducted with more than 8,000 respondents from 6 different countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Sweden).