June 20, 2023

Charleston Metro Area Has Ninth Best Gig Economy, Report Says

Owen Kowalewski  /  Charleston City Paper

Charleston ranked ninth among the country's 20 best metro areas for the gig economy and opportunity, according to a recent report by CommercialSearch. The gig economy is the sector of the labor market that consists of short-term contract and freelance workers.

The results came from an analysis of more than 70 of the nation's highest populated metropolitan areas on seven metrics including non-employer growth, median earnings and economic index.

"Charleston being ranked No. 9 nationally for best metropolitan area for self-employed professionals is pretty sweet," said Ernest Andrade, executive director of Charleston Digital Corridor. "Gig workers are generally independent-minded, entrepreneurial [people] avidly looking for new opportunities, pursuing self-education, etc. which contributes to a fundamental vibrance and dynamism for Charleston's economy and talent pool."

The Holy City's gig economy has grown significantly in the last five years. Non-employer growth has increased by more than 20% and median earnings for gig workers has grown by more than 25%.

"The well above-average presence of self-employed individuals promotes economic resilience in our community to unexpected downturns such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic," Andrade told the City Paper.

Charleston ranked just ahead of Atlanta (10), and Houston (11). The highest-ranking metros for gig economy were Miami (1), Nashville (2) and Austin (3). Nearly 30 of the 71 metropolitan areas were from the Southern U.S. making it the largest region in the study. All of the top 10 Southern states were among the top 20 in the national ranking.

"We know that lifestyle is a big driver for professionals relocating to Charleston. Being ranked a top 10 metro for gig workers demonstrates that high-wage companies and remote workers are increasingly seeking to relocate for quality-of-life purposes to choose Charleston," said Andrade. "A growing gig economy serves to promote a youthful culture (arts/food/entertainment) that attracts talent and diversity."