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COVID’s Economic Shift Part II: The Impact of Gig Work on Work/Life Balance for Black Communities

May 27, 2022 03:00PM ● By Nana Ama Addo and Umme Orthy

( Image by Kampus Productions via Pexels )

“Movement in the new direction helps to find new cheese” -Spencer Johnson, Who Moved my Cheese

COVID’s Economic Shift is a three-part series that explores the future of the US labor force. In the second part of the series, we investigate the work structure of gig work, and its impact on work/life balance for Black communities. 

Gig work is designed to be temporary, and can provide earnings for individuals who are experiencing financial difficulty or are looking for supplemental income. Compared to a typical 9-5pm work schedule, which may require workers to dedicate continuous hours of labor for wages, gig work operates in a manner that may be more fluid. A DoorDash delivery driver, for example, may have time between their deliveries to develop other businesses or visit family. However, because many gig work jobs are output-based rather than hourly-based, the quest for adequate income may push gig workers to increase their output. 

Part I of the series:

 Image by Kindel Media via Pexels

COVID’s Economic Shift Part I: The Place of Black Communities in Gig Economies

In part 1 of the series, we explore changes brought by the ‘great resignation’, and utilize qualitative and quantitative research to determine the impact of the ‘gig’ economy during the C... Read More » 


(Image by Nappy via Pexels )

In a 2021 Pew Research Center study, 50% of Black gig-workers surveyed reported working as a delivery person via a delivery app. According to the DoorDash website, the base pay for a 2022 delivery ranges from $2 to $10+, based on the delivery desirability, distance and estimated time. Customer tips add to the income structure of third-party apps like DoorDash. Some of our interviewees expressed dissatisfaction with gig work. One said “I wanna do the job that I did before COVID started.”

(Image by Kindel Media via Pexels )

While the earning potential of gig workers may be immense, the actualized income of gig workers can be scanty. Earnest reported that in 2021, 85% of gig workers made less than $500 a month. Many communities do gig work in addition to full-time jobs, which brings into question the level of work/life balance of these communities. Others who have undertaken gig work as a last resort may be forced to work overtime doing numerous gigs to make liveable income. When discussing their gig work experience, one interviewee described their gig work job as “hectic”, while another noted “The workload is too much."


In our survey of 56 people, we discovered that 40.9% of respondents reported that they were happy with their gig work experience, 18.2% reported being very satisfied, 9.1% reported their experience was only okay and 4.5% reported their gig work experience was a one-time thing. 


51.6% of respondents reported that they would like to go back to their job after the pandemic is over, while 25.8% said they would not prefer to go back to their job and 22.6% reported that maybe they would go back to their job. It can be inferred that a portion of the respondents began doing gig work out of necessity, in light of hardships brought by the COVID pandemic. 

In addition, gig workers who operate as their own small businesses or independent contractors are more likely to front the costs of expenses like dentistry and medical care, as many gig workers do not receive insurance from the gigs where they work.

Stay tuned for our next article, where we speak to a gig worker providing service, to learn about the potential of transforming gig work into business models with longevity and the benefits, challenges and future of the gig economy in Philadelphia.

Works Cited

This article is made in collaboration with Broke in Philly.


 Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ). 

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