India had around 68 lakh (6.8 million) gig workers in 2019-20, constituting 2.4% of the non-farm workforce, or 1.3% of the total livelihood, says a recent report by government think tank NITI Aayog. Of these, about half were concentrated in retail trade and transportation. Also, the other half was engaged in sales and driving. But, gig workforce is expanding and diversifying into more industries now.

In its latest report on 'India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy', the NITI Aayog says most of these gig workers are in top metro cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai.

"Though an increasing share of gig workers are a part of the organised sector — about 36% in 2019-20 — the overwhelming majority of gig workers are informal workers (more than 82.5%). This is unsurprising since over 90% of India’s workforce is informal," shows the NITI Aayog data.

The gig workforce is likely to expand from 68 lakh in 2019-20 and 77 lakh in 2020-21 to about 2.35 crore by 2029-30, growing from 1.5% of the total workforce in 2020-21 to 4.1% of the total livelihood in India by 2029-30.

At present, about 47% of the gig work is in medium-skilled jobs, about 22% in high skilled, and about 31% in low-skilled jobs. "Possibly the share of high skilled gig workers would increase from the present level of 21.9% to about 27.5% by 2030 while for the low skilled workers it may increase to about 33.8% by 2030," says the report.

Additionally, the estimates show that gig work, which is concentrated in middle-level skills currently, is likely to diversify into both high-skilled and low-skilled types of gig work in the future.

Gig work in India is currently not spread across all sectors of the economy, though it has the potential to become a major form of work in future. The NITI Aayog report says four sectors have the highest potential to produce “gigable” jobs in the future — construction, manufacturing, retail, and transportation and logistics. All these would accommodate over 7 crore of the potentially “gigable” jobs in the future, it adds.

Other industries transforming into gig are textile, banking and financial services, electricity, gas and water, real estate, IT and ITeS, education, and personal services. Another trend that has emerged is MNCs turning to flexible hiring options. "Currently more than 75% of the companies have less than 10% gig headcount, but this proportion is bound to rise," says the NITI Aayog report.

Estimates show gig hiring may increase from 15% in 2020 to nearly 70% in another 5 years in FMCG and other related industries. Still, only a small fraction of the total workforce is part of the gig workforce as of now. "Currently, about 1.33% of the total workers are gig workers," says the report, adding there's a steady increase in the share of gig workers in total workers, from "0.54% in 2011-12 to 1.33% in 2019-20".

The think tank estimates show about 37.6% of these workers are in the organised sector. The remaining are in the unorganised sector. The share increased from 26% in 2011-12 to 37.6% in 2019-20. Interestingly, the share of workers in the organised sector increased substantially during the period. But, the share of informal workers remained more or less the same or even marginally increased.

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