The State of Gig Economy in California. Statistics and Trends [2022]

The sales and receipts from the gig work in California have increased over 39% in the last decade. Read along to get more insights on the trends for the rise of the freelance, independent and gig work in California.
By Neilsberg Research November 29, 2022

The rise of the industrial economy in the 70s had the working population in California strive to get a full time job with an employer and show up for work. It has been the norm for decades, but if we study the shift in employment statistics closely, there is a big revolution in the making.

The working population in California is currently witnessing a post-industrial shift into a self dependent economy. Gen Z doesn't want to fit in the industrial complex and look for flexibility and satisfaction in their job. 

How big is the gig economy workforce in California?

32% of the small business workforce in California work as independent workers.

Comparative analysis of gig economy and employment datasets for small businesses suggest a dramatic shift in how working population in California work: 32% of the small business workforce work as independent workers. In California there are 3,458,667 self employed gig workers ( freelancers and contractors ) compared to 7,433,443 salaried employees in small business payroll ( firms with less than 500 employees).

The gig economy workforce of self employed independent contractors, freelancers, also identified as non employer firms are becoming an important factor in California. As per the current 2019 NES ( released on June 30, 2022) there are 3,458,667 gig businesses in California, up from 2,814,409 in 2010. 


Number of gig workers and receipts across California from 2010 to 2019

Year No. of gig workers Receipts ($billion)
2010 2,814,409 138
2011 2,887,014 144
2012 2,926,065 149
2013 2,983,996 153
2014 3,117,591 162
2015 3,206,958 169
2016 3,277,415 174
2017 3,374,050 182
2018 3,453,769 189
2019 3,458,667 193


This increase in the gig worker population can be safely related to increase in employment opportunities created by the rise of online platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, TaskRabbit.

Which industries contribute the most to the gig economy in California?

The sector " Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services " contributed the most whereas the lowest contribution came from Utilities sector.

We aim to look at the distribution of gig economy workforce across broad 17 industry levels as defined under NAICS. As per the current 2019 NES ( released on June 30, 2022), there are 7 sectors with more than 250,000 gig workers. The sector " Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services " contributed the most with the number of gig workers as 583,377. The lowest contributor to the gig economy was the Utilities sector with just 1,255 gig workers across California. The number of gig "businesses" according to the respective industry sectors is exhibited in the table below.

Exhibit 1


Industry wise distribution of gig worker population and receipts across California

Industry No. of gig workers Receipts ($billion)
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 583,377 32
Transportation and Warehousing 430,900 19
Other Services (except Public Administration) 350,973 13
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 342,061 45
Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services 298,898 9
Health Care and Social Assistance 274,106 11
Construction 246,911 15
Retail Trade 244,491 13
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 233,994 9
Educational Services 107,856 2
Finance and Insurance 90,187 8
Information 69,348 3
Accommodation and Food Services 61,291 3
Wholesale Trade 60,139 7
Manufacturing 45,211 3
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 3,227 0
Utilities 1,255 0

The next important thing to analyze is change in the gig economy workforce across different industries over the last decade. This analysis will help us determine the true drivers in the rise of gig economy in California. Analysis of the data suggests that the biggest driver in the gig economy across California is the Transportation and Warehousingsector. The number of gig workers increased by 259% from 120,012 in 2010, increasing to 430,900 in the data from the current reference year NES 2019. 

For the same time period, the biggest loss of 65,622 was witnessed in the Other Services (except Public Administration) sector. The overall decline in this sector over the last decade was at 16%, witnessing a decrease to 350,973 ( in 2019 ) from 416,595 ( in 2010).

The change in the number of gig "businesses" according to the respective industry sectors over the data analysis of last 10 reference years in NES is exhibited in the table below.


Growth in gig economy by industry across California over the last decade

Industry Gig workers in 2010 Gig workers in 2019 Growth Growth (%)
Transportation and Warehousing 120,012 430,900 310,888 259
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 492,524 583,377 90,853 18
Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services 238,289 298,898 60,609 25
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 174,501 233,994 59,493 34
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 301,369 342,061 40,692 14
Educational Services 67,623 107,856 40,233 59
Retail Trade 214,251 244,491 30,240 14
Construction 218,644 246,911 28,267 13
Accommodation and Food Services 37,987 61,291 23,304 61
Information 54,544 69,348 14,804 27
Finance and Insurance 83,423 90,187 6,764 8
Manufacturing 42,705 45,211 2,506 6
Wholesale Trade 58,528 60,139 1,611 3
Health Care and Social Assistance 273,865 274,106 241 0
Utilities 1,252 1,255 3 0
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 5,356 3,227 -2,129 -40
Other Services (except Public Administration) 416,595 350,973 -65,622 -16

Which counties contribute the most to the gig economy in California?

The top 5 counties have 59.95% of the entire 3,458,667 gig workforce

Looking at the county distribution for the gig economy workers across California, the top 5 counties have 59.95% of the entire 3,458,667 gig workforce.

On the other hand the lowest contributing locations contribute approximately 0.08% of the state level gig workforce with 2,895 gig workers in total among them.


Distribution of gig worker population and receipts across all of the counties in California

County No. of gig workers Receipts ($billion)
Los Angeles 1,112,641 63
Orange 324,958 20
San Diego 292,558 15
Riverside 183,757 8
San Bernardino 159,530 7
Alameda 145,962 8
Santa Clara 143,404 9
Sacramento 114,724 6
Contra Costa 101,112 6
San Francisco 91,940 6
Ventura 71,248 4
San Mateo 70,889 5
Fresno 57,287 3
Kern 50,492 3
Sonoma 45,633 3
San Joaquin 44,792 3
Marin 37,149 3
Santa Barbara 35,300 2
Placer 35,081 2
Stanislaus 30,847 2
Solano 26,856 1
San Luis Obispo 26,134 1
Monterey 26,100 2
Santa Cruz 24,733 1
Tulare 21,732 1
El Dorado 17,425 1
Yolo 13,838 1
Butte 12,745 1
Nevada 12,679 1
Napa 12,337 1
Merced 12,261 1
Shasta 12,028 1
Humboldt 11,150 0
Imperial 10,075 0
Mendocino 8,293 0
Madera 7,775 0
Sutter 6,322 0
Kings 5,183 0
Tuolumne 4,217 0
Lake 3,964 0
San Benito 3,964 0
Yuba 3,825 0
Calaveras 3,691 0
Siskiyou 3,310 0
Tehama 3,173 0
Amador 2,846 0
Plumas 1,683 0
Glenn 1,458 0
Mono 1,418 0
Mariposa 1,407 0
Del Norte 1,374 0
Inyo 1,357 0
Lassen 1,115 0
Colusa 1,039 0
Trinity 900 0
Modoc 586 0
Sierra 262 0
Alpine 108 0

As expected, the top counties with the most number of gig workers are also the counties with the highest growth percentage of gig workers over the last decade. The best growth achieved is by Los Angeles county, where the number of gig workers increased 21% from being 922,139 in 2016 to 1,112,641 in 2019 ( the latest reference year for NES as per the release on Jun 30 2022).


Growth in gig economy across all of the counties in California over the last decade

County Gig workers in 2012 Gig workers in 2019 Growth Growth (%)
Los Angeles 922,139 1,112,641 190,502 21
Orange 273,361 324,958 51,597 19
San Diego 242,035 292,558 50,523 21
Riverside 149,585 183,757 34,172 23
San Bernardino 132,358 159,530 27,172 21
Alameda 120,540 145,962 25,422 21
Sacramento 92,638 114,724 22,086 24
Contra Costa 80,806 101,112 20,306 25
Santa Clara 127,862 143,404 15,542 12
San Joaquin 33,859 44,792 10,933 32
Fresno 48,294 57,287 8,993 19
San Mateo 62,302 70,889 8,587 14
Ventura 63,373 71,248 7,875 12
Kern 43,310 50,492 7,182 17
Placer 29,289 35,081 5,792 20
Solano 21,313 26,856 5,543 26
San Francisco 86,574 91,940 5,366 6
Stanislaus 25,656 30,847 5,191 20
Santa Barbara 31,764 35,300 3,536 11
San Luis Obispo 23,559 26,134 2,575 11
Sonoma 43,073 45,633 2,560 6
Tulare 19,478 21,732 2,254 12
Monterey 23,934 26,100 2,166 9
Yolo 11,695 13,838 2,143 18
El Dorado 15,526 17,425 1,899 12
Merced 10,582 12,261 1,679 16
Napa 11,060 12,337 1,277 12
Santa Cruz 23,465 24,733 1,268 5
Sutter 5,121 6,322 1,201 23
Nevada 11,638 12,679 1,041 9
Kings 4,214 5,183 969 23
Madera 6,885 7,775 890 13
San Benito 3,301 3,964 663 20
Yuba 3,167 3,825 658 21
Marin 36,500 37,149 649 2
Imperial 9,512 10,075 563 6
Shasta 11,531 12,028 497 4
Humboldt 10,926 11,150 224 2
Calaveras 3,515 3,691 176 5
Tuolumne 4,055 4,217 162 4
Mariposa 1,262 1,407 145 11
Del Norte 1,232 1,374 142 12
Amador 2,708 2,846 138 5
Mendocino 8,174 8,293 119 1
Glenn 1,375 1,458 83 6
Plumas 1,604 1,683 79 5
Mono 1,344 1,418 74 6
Inyo 1,298 1,357 59 5
Tehama 3,114 3,173 59 2
Lassen 1,058 1,115 57 5
Modoc 530 586 56 11
Colusa 1,011 1,039 28 3
Sierra 234 262 28 12
Siskiyou 3,291 3,310 19 1
Alpine 98 108 10 10
Lake 3,970 3,964 -6 0
Trinity 995 900 -95 -10
Butte 12,972 12,745 -227 -2

Who does gig work and what are the demographic profile of gig economy workers in California?

Across California, the number of male workers in gig economy stood at 1,883,000 compared to 1,422,000 female workers

Across California, the gig work runs through every demographic profile criteria. As some of the the gigs such as delivering packages, food, driving passengers have low entry barriers work has a low barrier to start with, a lot of younger and population that is not economically established tend to take up these gigs more than the rest of population.

To get more details, we analyzed the most current Nonemployer Statistics by Demographics. We found that across California, the number of male workers in gig economy stood at 1,883,000 compared to 1,422,000 female workers.


Demographic breakdown of gig economy workers, by gender, in California

Gender No. of gig workers Receipts ($billion)
Male 1,883,000 117
Female 1,422,000 48

The distribution on the basis of ethnicity was stark and the number of non hispanics in the gig workforce stood at 2,498,000 compared to 860,000 workers with ethnicity as hispanic.


Demographic breakdown of gig economy workers, by ethnicity, in California

Ethnicity No. of gig workers Receipts ($billion)
Non-Hispanic 2,498,000 141
Hispanic 860,000 32

On the basis of race the number of gig workers from the white population was found to be 2,428,000 compared to the 213,000 from black and 686,000 asian population.


Demographic breakdown of gig economy workers, by race, in California

Race No. of gig workers Receipts ($billion)
White 2,428,000 132
Asian 686,000 34
Black or African American 213,000 6


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal or tax advice. We recommend that you consult with a qualified professional such as a lawyer or accountant before making a decision. Many of the products and services featured here are from our affiliate partners. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. Read advertiser disclosure.

Share this post