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JPMorgan Chase Institute Data Show That As Unemployment Decreases, So Does Growth in Participation in the Online Platform Economy

More than 50 percent of people earning in the online platform economy leave their online gigs within one year.

November 15, 2016 (Washington, D.C.) – The JPMorgan Chase Institute issued a new report today showing that participation in the online platform economy–where people are paid for online gigs like driving services, selling goods, or renting their homes–continues to grow, but has slowed significantly since its peak in 2014. At the same time there is a high degree of turnover in the online platform economy, as one in six participants are new each month and more than half exit within 12 months.

“Consumer spending growth has risen again after a significant decline in May,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute. “Small businesses are the highlight of June’s growth, which is notable given their positive impact on local economies and employment.”

The key highlights from the latest Index include: The Online Platform Economy: Has Growth Peaked? also provides a unique look at the growth in participation in and earnings from the online platform economy in 15 major U.S. cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.

“The online platform economy continues to grow but the pace of growth has slowed dramatically,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute. “As unemployment falls and more people gain traditional jobs, they are less likely to participate in the online platform economy and more likely to exit.”

The report was constructed using anonymized account data from October 2012 to June 2016 on more than 240,000 core Chase customers. All of these individuals received income at least once during this time frame from one or more of 42 different platforms..

Following are key findings from the new report:

  • Growth in participation in the Online Platform Economy peaked in 2014 and has slowed since then.
    • Cumulatively, 4.3 percent of adults earned income from the platform economy as of June 2016—1.5 percent from labor platforms and 2.8 percent from capital platforms.
    • As of June 2016, participation in capital platforms exhibited no year-over-year growth, but participation in labor platforms roughly doubled year-over-year.
  • Turnover in the Online Platform Economy is high: one in six participants in any given month is new, and more than half of participants exit within 12 months.
    • More than one-third of capital platform participants earned platform income for just one month compared to 17 percent of labor platform participants.
  • Non-employed individuals are more likely than the employed to participate in labor platforms but represent a decreasing share of participants as the unemployment rate drops.
    • The fraction of labor platform participants with a job outside the online platform economy increased from a low of 24 percent in January 2013 to 51 percent in June 2016 while the official unemployment rate fell from 8.0 percent to 4.9 percent over the same period.
    • As of June 2016, 49 percent of labor platform participants and 39 percent of capital platform participants were not otherwise employed.
  • Platform earnings and participation differ significantly across cities.  While monthly earnings on capital platforms increased by 34 percent between June 2014 and June 2016, they decreased on labor platforms by 6 percent (a trend that coincides with wage cuts by some platforms.)
    • In June 2016, average monthly labor platform earnings ranged from $2,447 in New York to $585 in Miami.
    • In June 2016, average monthly capital platform earnings ranged from $2,245 in Miami to $507 in Columbus.
    • At the city level, there is substantial variation in labor platform participation.
      • In June 2016, participation on labor platforms ranged from 1.2 percent of adults in San Francisco to 0.2 percent in Detroit.
    • New York experienced the fastest growth in participation—a 236 percent increase year-over-year—while San Francisco experienced the slowest rate of growth at 26 percent year-over-year.
  • Employed, higher-income, and younger participants are more likely to exit the Online Platform Economy within a year. There was wide dispersion in dropout rates across cities on labor platforms but little variation in dropout on capital platforms.
    • On labor platforms, the percent of people who drop out of labor platforms within 12 months ranged from 69 percent in Detroit to 45 percent in San Francisco.

This report follows the Institute’s inaugural report on the online platform economy, issued in February 2016, Paychecks, Paydays and the Online Platform Economy, which demonstrates the role that online gigs can play in managing income volatility.


About the JPMorgan Chase Institute
The JPMorgan Chase Institute is a global think tank dedicated to delivering data-rich analyses and expert insights for the public good. Its aim is to help decision makers–policymakers, businesses, and nonprofit leaders–appreciate the scale, granularity, diversity, and interconnectedness of the global economic system and use better facts, timely data, and thoughtful analysis to make smarter decisions to advance global prosperity. Drawing on JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s unique proprietary data, expertise, and market access, the Institute develops analyses and insights on the inner workings of the global economy, frames critical problems, and convenes stakeholders and leading thinkers. For more information visit: JPMorganChaseInstitute.com

Media Contacts: Nicole Kennedy JPMorgan Chase, Nicole.Kennedy@chase.com, (215) 864-5732