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RESEARCH Is the Online Platform Economy the Future of Work?

Earlier this year JPMorgan Chase Institute set out to understand “The Future of Work” by creating a distinctive window into the Online Platform Economy. In our first report, Paychecks, Paydays and the Online Platform Economy, we estimated that while the actual number of people participating in the online platform economy is very small–nearly 1% of adults actively earning income–participation grew by over 200% for both labor and capital platforms in 2014.

Our new report,The Online Platform Economy: Has Growth Peaked?, provides an updated look at the dynamics of participation and growth within this marketplace. We find that growth in participation and earnings has slowed–to roughly 100 percent growth in participation on labor platforms and 0 percent growth in participation on capital platforms as of June 2016. Moreover, turnover is high—our data show that one in six participants in any given month are new, while more than half of participants exit within 12 months. The Online Platform Economy relies heavily on participants who are unemployed. But as unemployment decreases the pool of likely platform participants continues to narrow.

We also provide 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 might not be the “Future of Work”, but it certainly serves a purpose–whether helping people smooth dips in income, or providing flexibility to those who value it most. Trends in our data show that growth in the online platform participation is highly dependent on attracting new participants or increasing the attachment of existing participants. For participation growth to continue, efforts must be made to make this way of work more sustainable and supportive.

For additional detail on this new research, you can view the press release here: JPMorgan Chase Institute Data Show That As Unemployment Decreases, So Does Growth in Participation in the Online Platform Economy


Diana Farrell

Founding and Former President & CEO