NSC Labor Division news Research/studies Transportation

Gig workers report poorer health than salaried employees: analysis

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Houston — “Insecure income” earners employed in gig work have more health issues than salaried employees, results of a recent analysis by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center show.

The researchers looked at 2008-2019 data from the IPUMS Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which covers “the time period from the start of the modern gig economy through the most recent data.” Around 30,000 respondents answered health-related questions during each of the five rounds of surveys administered.

The respondents who had insecure income from gig work reported a 50% increase in poor overall health and psychological distress than the respondents who were salaried workers. Black and Hispanic gig workers were more likely to report poor health than their white counterparts. Higher hourly pay rates reduced the association between gig work and poor health but didn’t eliminate it.


“The longer-term economic burden will ultimately be passed onto the U.S. consumer as we see increases in worker shortages, increases in prices from gig companies and increases in unreimbursed health care utilization,” study co-author Robert Thomas said in a press release. “It is reasonable to project that the U.S. taxpayer will pay more for uninsured chronic morbidity care of uninsured U.S. workers who are paid an insecure income.”

The analysis was published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

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