The 11 Best Cities for Gig Economy Jobs in 2020
If you haven’t heard by now, the gig economy is a big deal. The Brookings Institution reports that between 15.8% and 31% of U.S. workers are earning some sort of income (part-time or full-time) through the gig economy.
When you learn more about the gig economy, it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. There are now more opportunities than ever to earn good money in exchange for completing “gigs” (short projects or tasks). Whether it’s driving for Uber, delivering for Instacart, or even completing gigs as a consultant, there’s almost certainly a gig economy job that fits your skills and work preferences.
But are some cities better than others to be a gig economy worker? Keep reading to find out, as we examine the top 11 best cities for gig economy jobs in 2020.
What Is the Gig Economy?
Before we continue, here’s a brief introduction to the gig economy in case you aren’t familiar. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a “gig” is “a single project or task for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand.”
The gig economy, then, refers to the entire collection of companies and people that either provide or work gigs. This includes everything from ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft to dog-walking apps such as Rover. It also includes opportunities from sites such as Upwork and even consulting or freelance gigs that you find on your own.
There are lots of benefits to working in the gig economy compared to a regular job. You get to enjoy flexible work hours, you don’t have to deal with a boss, and you’re also in control of your earnings. If you want to make some extra money, then you can just pick up an additional gig.
While gig work is often something people do to make some additional money on top of their full-time jobs, it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to combine multiple gigs. With the right combination, it’s even possible to replace your full-time income, if you so desire.
How We Chose the Best Cities for Gig Economy Jobs
Trying to narrow down all the different cities to a list of just 11 best cities for gig economy jobs was a challenge. Indeed, the fact that it was such a challenge indicates just how much opportunity there is in the gig economy all across the United States.
We chose these cities because they all have a healthy gig economy presence. You’ll be able to find Uber and Lyft, Instacart, and most of the major food delivery services. The following are also all cities that have decent-sized entrepreneurial and tech communities, which means more opportunities for finding consulting and freelance gigs.
That being said, just because your city isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean you can’t make good money working in the gig economy where you live. It simply means that you may have to be a bit more creative or hustle a bit harder than in the cities below.
The 11 Best Cities for Gig Economy Jobs in 2020
So without further ado, here are the best cities for gig economy jobs this year:
Starting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, we have Denver, Colorado. With Uber pickups on every corner, electric scooters littering the sidewalks, and a large tech industry presence, Denver is a prototypical gig economy city. As far as available gigs, Denver checks all the boxes: Uber and Lyft, Bird and Lime, and Postmates, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats are all available.
Beyond these mainstream gigs, Denver has plenty of other opportunities for earning money on a gig basis. You can check out one of the many cool spaces listed on Denver Coworks to find your home base, and then from there you can check out the dozens of entrepreneur meetups to find potential clients.
Moving northwest, we come to Portland. While it’s perhaps best-known for its hipster vibes and bike culture (mostly thanks to the TV show “Portlandia”), it’s also a great city to be a gig worker. You’ll find all the classic gigs you could hope for, as well as some that are a bit harder to find such as high-end food delivery app Caviar.
Besides the usual gigs, Portland also boasts some prominent companies that could provide some serious freelance opportunities. Well-known clothing brands Nike and Columbia are both based in the Portland area, as well as prominent restaurant chain The Old Spaghetti Factory and tool-maker Leatherman. And if you need to get out of your house to work, there is a variety of interesting coworking spaces to choose from.
Traveling just a few hours north of Portland, there’s Seattle. It may be rainy there almost half of the year, but that doesn’t mean a lack of opportunities to make money completing gigs. With a substantial population and a median family income of $121,000, Seattle has been an obvious spot for all the big gig economy companies to offer their services.
That’s just the beginning of the story, however. Seattle is also home to the headquarters of Amazon, the largest private employer in the entire city. This makes it a fertile place for finding all kinds of interesting gigs, especially in the tech space. Seattle also hosts organizations such as Working Washington, which aims to help gig economy workers gain additional rights and benefits.
4. San Diego
Maybe you just know it for SeaWorld or its proximity to Tijuana, but San Diego is a great city to be a gig worker. It’s a laid-back place to drive for Uber while taking in views of the ocean or deliver packages for Amazon Flex while admiring Spanish colonial architecture.
Plus, with a substantial U.S. military presence, there are opportunities for all kinds of interesting gigs outside of the mainstream. And even if that’s not your thing, the city also has a thriving tech scene, which means lots of other potential gigs for you to work.
Best-known for being “Music City USA,” the Nashville of today is about far more than just country music. The city also has a substantial healthcare industry, respectable startup scene, and is even home to large national brands such as Dollar General and Tractor Supply.
On the gig economy front, Nashville has all the major companies. You can deliver iconic dishes such as hot chicken for DoorDash, and you never know if your Lyft passenger will end up being the next big country star. Plus, in a city known for live music, there’s never a shortage of rideshare gigs.
A mecca for hip hop and home to the headquarters of global brand Coca-Cola, Atlanta is a city that has always rewarded hustle. With a metro population of over 5 million (and growing), there are plenty of people who want the services that gig economy workers can provide. In particular, Atlanta is a city that relies mostly on cars for transportation. Therefore, rideshare drivers will find lots of work here.
But even if you aren’t interested in rideshare gigs, you can still find plenty in Atlanta. Instacart now has a presence throughout the city to serve the influx of busy professionals, and you can always find someone in need of help through TaskRabbit.
Chicago is known for the wind, baseball, and notable monuments such as Cloudgate (“The Bean”) and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). As the third-largest city in the U.S., it’s also an important economic center, with a gross metropolitan product of $670.5 billion. All this money and business means opportunity for people working gigs.
Indeed, Chicago is where prominent food delivery app Grubhub began and still has its corporate headquarters. So, obviously, food delivery is a popular gig here. That being said, you can find plenty of other gigs to make ends meet, with no shortage of rideshare and task gigs available.
8. Washington, D.C.
As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. has an impressive array of monuments, museums, and historical sites. Yet just because it has a rich history, that doesn’t mean that D.C. is stuck in the past. Today, it’s home to all kinds of exciting gig opportunities.
The D.C. metro area is one of substantial wealth — the top two wealthiest counties in the United States are all located around D.C. This means plenty of people to pay for gig economy services, especially chore-oriented ones such as TaskRabbit. And while D.C. has better public transit than most U.S. cities, limited service hours mean that you’ll still be able to snag plenty of Uber and Lyft rides, particularly late at night.
When most people think of Boston, they probably think of rich history and clam chowder. And while you’ll find plenty of both in Boston, you’ll also find a thriving gig economy. A thriving public transit system has made bike and scooter share programs more popular than rideshare services, though you can certainly still find work there as an Uber or Lyft driver. And you can deliver for budget food delivery apps like Uber Eats as well as premium ones such as Caviar.
What’s more, major companies such as General Electric, Staples, and Stop & Shop are all headquartered in Boston. So if you’re trying to strike out on your own and land some gigs doing consulting or freelance work, you have a solid base of potential clients to pull from. You’ll also find plenty of excellent coworking spaces and lots of exciting, tech-focused startups.
10. Los Angeles
The largest city on this list, Los Angeles is well-known for being a crucial site for the global entertainment industry. All kinds of celebrities call the city home, and designers, actors, fine artists, musicians, and other creatives are legion. You’ll find that the energy is contagious, and the warm, sunny weather is also a major perk.
In a city that blends creative energy with great wealth, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles is a great spot for gig jobs. All those celebrities don’t have time to walk their own dogs, so why not earn some extra money doing so with Rover? Plus, with so many people in LA, there are lots of opportunities for anyone looking to find their own gigs.
For the final item on our list, we leave sunny LA and head to one of the coldest cities in the United States. Okay, so technically it’s only the 12th-coldest, but Minneapolis does get colder than most Americans are used to dealing with. Average winter temperatures hover in the teens, and subzero days are common.
But while the weather in Minneapolis may be cold, the gig economy there is hot. Scooters zoom through the streets, and you can get all the food delivery you like. The city is also an important economic hub for the region, with the headquarters of prominent retailer Target located there. So if you want to find some well-paying contract gigs, there are certainly opportunities.
Start Earning With a Gig Economy Job in Your City
We hope this guide has shown you all the exciting gig economy opportunities that there are across the United States. All the cities on this list are fabulous places to be a gig worker, and we hope that you’ll consider signing up for one of the gigs we discussed here. It’s a great way to start earning some extra money while also dipping your toe into entrepreneurship.
If you’re having trouble finding a gig near you, check out our gig economy job board. There, you’ll find a list of gigs from around the country and world, including many that would be difficult to find otherwise.
*We don't spam, we promise.
Subscribe to the Gigworker.com newsletter and never miss a gig-economy story.
No spam, just stories.
*We don't spam, we promise.