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Economists Share Findings on Hawaiʻi Gig Workers, Remote Opportunities

A study shows that ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber contribute to traffic congestion.
Gene J. Puskar

Skilled workers at sugar plantations could look forward to one job for their entire working life. Today in Honolulu, the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority calls this low-income: $67,700 a year.

A lot of people need to juggle more than one job to make even that. Short-term, temporary employment can help, but how big is this gig economy? The Hawaiʻi Workforce Development Council wanted to find out who’s working in the gig economy here, compared with the rest of the country.

Wayne Liou, now an economist in the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism's Research and Economic Analysis Division, wrote the report. The study showed as many as one-quarter of gig workers in Hawaiʻi worked overtime — 51 hours or more a week. How much did they make? Gig workers averaged $807 a week.

"The report found that contingent workers or gig workers in Hawaiʻi tend to be a little bit more female relative to gig workers in the rest of the nation," Liou said. "They tend to be a little bit more educated, more college degrees, more master's degrees relative to gig workers for the rest of the nation."

"When people talk about gig work, people usually think about Uber drivers or Lyft drivers, or someone who is doing some small, side hustle type of job. But gig workers can also be independent contractors, because independent contractors don't have a steady employer. And so independent contractors tend to be a little older, right?" he said.

Independent contractors of that level typically have high-quality skills they developed in a traditional employment system and then started their own businesses, he said.

Scott Murakami, now the economic development coordinator at DBEDT, shared the variety of remote work opportunities for Hawaiʻi workers. Current remote work partners include Instant Teams and Nexrep.

Scott Murakami - Sept. 10, 2021
Economic development coordinator for the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism - The Aloha Friday Conversation

These interviews aired on The Aloha Friday Conversation on Sept. 10, 2021.

Noe Tanigawa covers art, culture and ideas for Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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