Published time: 19 May 2020
Authors: Fabian Stephany, Michael Dunn, Steven Sawyer, Vili Lehdonvirta
Keywords: Covid-19, freelance work, multi-method study, online labour markets, telework
We draw on data from the Online Labour Index and interviews with freelancers in the United States securing work on online platforms, to illuminate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic’s global economic upheaval is shuttering shops and offices. Those able to do so are now working remotely from their homes. They join workers who have always been working remotely: freelancers who earn some or all of their income from projects secured via online labour platforms. Data allow us to sketch a first picture of how the initial month of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the livelihoods of online freelancers. The data shows online labour demand falling rapidly in early March 2020, but with an equally rapid recovery. We also find significant differences between countries and occupations. Data from interviews make clear jobs are increasingly scarce even as more people are creating profiles and seeking freelance work online.
Distancing Bonus or Downscaling Loss The Changing Livelihood of US Online Workers in Times of COVID-19