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The rise of the gig economy: America’s ultimate student side hustles

Gig economy
Florida takes the crown as the leading state of the gig economy. Source: Kai Pilger/Unsplash

The gig economy provides an alternative way of working to the typical 9-5 job, allowing people to earn money independently and in a more flexible way. But which US states are driving the gig economy and which roles are the most popular and best-paid?  

AppJobs have analysed US gig applications data to reveal America’s ultimate side hustle. Looking at the states leading the way with this style of flexible working, the most popular gig categories people are applying for and the average earnings you can make per hour. could you find yourself taking on one of the nation’s most popular side hustles?

From pet-sitters and private tutors to delivery drivers and home chefs, the gig economy has grown dramatically over the last two decades, transforming the world of work and breaking out of the 9-5 rut. The increasing popularity of side hustles has seen financial opportunity and independence offered to anyone keen to try a new style of working and earn some extra money.

With the gig economy showing no signs of slowing down, which side hustles are proving the most popular and where in the US is driving this alternative style of work?

The top 5 states driving the gig economy with the most applications

Rank State No. of applications
1 Florida 55,762
2 California 45,615
3 New York 37,597
4 Texas 34,161
5 Pennsylvania 13,308

The southernmost state, Florida, takes the crown as the leading state of the gig economy, with the area seeing an impressive 55,782 gig applications – over four times the figures in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Of the people applying for gig jobs in Florida, almost half have been aimed at delivery driver roles (28,676), highlighting the accessibility of this gig category, with the main, key requirement for this role being a driver’s license.

The state with the highest population, California, sits in second place with 45,615 gig applications, and New York in third with 37,597. More work needs to be done across the US overall in terms of driving the gig economy, with over 20 of the states analysed holding less than 5,000 applications, including North Carolina with just 4,354, despite being the ninth most populous state.

The most popular gig categories

Delivery driving takes the top spot as the most popular gig category Americans are applying for, with 105.314 applications. Varying from delivering groceries and take-aways to dropping off furniture, delivery driving gig work allows Americans to earn an average of US$17.10 per hour in their spare time.

The second most popular gig category is general freelancing with 95,866 applications, which covers a breadth of interests from completing surveys to being an online fashion stylist. Its popularity is reflected across most states, coming out as the leading gig category in the majority of states analysed, including Texas and Ohio.

Gig economy

Source: AppJobs

The top 5 best-earning gig jobs

Massage therapy is the best-earning gig category with an impressive hourly rate of US$27.84, double the earnings of gig cleaning, which earns US$11.29 per hour, and pet-sitting which earns US$13.17.

Freelancing sits at the second-best paid gig category with an hourly rate of US$25.33 and delivery driving takes 5th place. The gig categories that require more skill and qualifications are positioned as some of the best-paid roles, with home-cooking and teaching having an hourly rate of over US$20.

Iwona Polog, Head of Growth from AppJobs comments:

“It’s great to see the increasing popularity of the gig economy across so many US states, as well as the variety of roles being applied for, with each category varying in industry and skill. The gig economy provides a broader horizon of opportunity for people to take on a new and more flexible style of working, that suits both their lifestyle and needs and allows them to gain more control over their work-life balance.

“The gig economy is a great opportunity to explore your passion, whether that’s caring for animals through pet sitting or tutoring others. It’s also a great way to explore ways of earning money that you’ll enjoy, out of the typical 9-5 job.”

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