Businesses spent $4.4 trillion on contingent labor globally in 2020, according to data from SIA. Roughly 61% of that was on independent contractor services, while workers provided through staffing firms accounted for just 9%. Globally, direct sourcing comprised more of global spend at $667 billion, or about 15% of global spend.

The picture is roughly the same in the US, which comprised about 52 million contingent workers and $1.3 trillion in spend in 2020, according to SIA. While contingent work through staffing firms accounted for about 9% of 2020 spend, direct sourcing is much lower than global figures; in 2020, about 9% of overall contingent workforce spend was done directly.

SIA defines the “gig economy” to include any contingent work of a fixed duration, breaking down the workforce into five categories: temporary workers assigned by a staffing agency (TAW), platform-related work, other independent contractors (IC) and business owners with no employees, temporary employees sourced directly, and salaried employees of consulting firms on consulting engagements with clients (statement-of work consultants).

Platform-related work includes talent platforms and work services platforms and accounts for the smallest portion of global spend, though it outpaces direct sourcing in the US.

Source: The Talent Platform Workforce: 2021 Update and The Global Gig Economy.

SIA reports are available to members of the CWS Council.