According to T. Rowe Price’s second annual survey focused on workers participating in the gig economy, 56% of independent workers are actively saving for retirement (excluding independent workers who identify as already retired). Significantly more traditional workers are actively saving for retirement in comparison (72%). This may be due to the fact that the majority of traditional workers use their employer-sponsored retirement plan (68%) and likely have access to the automatic savings features typically available in those plans, while independent workers are primarily using IRAs (40%). Meanwhile, independent workers are just as likely as traditional workers to feel they are financially prepared for retirement (49% and 47%, respectively).
The survey also found that just over half of both independent and traditional workers envision working part time or independently in retirement.
Gig economy employment is defined as independent full- or part-time work, including temporary, freelance, and contract employment or business ownership. According to the survey findings, baby boomers make up the largest group of independent workers (48%), followed by Generation X (28%), and millennials (24%). Roughly three-quarters of all independent workers surveyed started working in the gig economy by choice and not out of necessity.
INDEPENDENT WORKERS: THEIR FINANCIAL BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDES
- Independent workers say that working on their own has made them more involved in their finances, which is especially true with millennials. For the second consecutive year, the majority of independent workers say they are much more or somewhat more involved in their finances as a result of working independently (75%), with millennials more likely to say this (85%) compared to Gen Xers (73%) and baby boomers (71%).
- Independent workers say they check their accounts more regularly, stay more on top of their bills, and work harder to have good credit since working on their own. Checking their accounts more regularly was the most cited reason independent workers say they are more involved with their finances at 68%, followed by staying on top of their bills (63%) and working harder to have good credit (33%). Millennials are significantly more likely than boomers to say they work harder to have good credit (40% and 29%, respectively).
- Independent workers choose to work on their own primarily to have a flexible work schedule and be their own boss, with earning more money coming in third. Having a flexible work schedule and being my own boss were the top two reasons for working independently (60% for both), while earning more money followed at 52%.
- Almost half of independent workers say they are working more than one independent job. Forty-eight percent of independent workers surveyed say they are working more than one independent job. The top two reasons for working multiple independent jobs were to maximize earnings (42%) and to pursue multiple interests or passions (36%).
“Without the safety net of being able to save for retirement through an employer-sponsored plan, independent workers have to make active decisions about their retirement,” said Stuart Ritter, senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price. “So, it’s encouraging to see that many of them are making the effort to save and that this proactive financial behavior extends beyond just saving for retirement. We’re also seeing that many independent workers are participating in this type of work by choice. The general perception is that they are forced into this work to make ends meet financially, but in reality, their priority is to have more control of their day-to-day schedule and tasks. Work/life balance seems to be a priority for people, and working independently provides that kind of flexibility.”
ABOUT THE STUDY
T. Rowe Price sponsored the online national survey, conducted by Beacon Research, from January 24, 2019, to February 16, 2019. The findings are based on a national sample of 2,010 adults aged 22-73. Gig economy work, also referred to as independent work, is defined for this survey as a trend in the workforce in which people work more independently full time or part time, earning income through freelance, contract, and temporary employment or business ownership. This study had an overall margin of error of +2.2% at the 95% confidence level. This is the second year the survey was conducted, following the 2018 installment.
ABOUT BEACON RESEARCH
Founded in 2000, Beacon Research is an independent insights consultancy based in Annapolis, Maryland. The company was started by Kristin Schwitzer, a former Procter & Gamble brand manager and ad agency director of strategic planning. Beacon Research provides services in the U.S. and abroad focused on new product innovation, user experience, branding, advertising research, shopper insights, and website/mobile app development. For more information, visit LinkedIn.
ABOUT T. ROWE PRICE
Founded in 1937, Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., is a global investment management organization with $1.07 trillion in assets under management as of February 28, 2019. The organization provides a broad array of mutual funds, subadvisory services, and separate account management for individual and institutional investors, retirement plans, and financial intermediaries. The organization also offers a variety of sophisticated investment planning and guidance tools. T. Rowe Price’s disciplined, risk-aware investment approach focuses on diversification, style consistency, and fundamental research. For more information, visit troweprice.com, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.
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