Shoring up shortfalls: Women, retirement and the growing GigSupp economy

March 2021

Women increasingly are using gig work as a supplemental source of income. What does it mean for their retirement security?

Summary

Today, millions of Americans use online platforms to sell goods and services and connect with customers. Millions more provide paid care, sell goods, run errands, rent rooms, and do odd jobs without using an online platform. While most research has focused on online gig workers, who are typically men, virtually no research before this study has examined the retirement income implications of gig work as a supplemental source of income (“GigSupp Work”). This knowledge deficit matters because women constitute a large share of the GigSupp workforce and, compared to men, face a persistent retirement wealth gap.

Key Insights
GigSupp Work has grown significantly and is continuing to grow.
More women than men engage in GigSupp Work and women are driving its growth.
Reliable national data regarding the GigSupp workforce is lacking.
GigSupp Work triggers a retirement financing gap that disproportionately impacts women, and notably, women of color.
Existing tax reporting rules impact Social Security benefit accruals among GigSupp workers.
Methodology

The authors reviewed research on gig workers, comparing administrative and private sector data sets and surveys, research criteria, and findings. They also conducted more than 100 interviews with experts, including collaborating with the Federal Reserve Board analysts responsible for the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking.