Young business woman working at desk typing on a laptop in office and drinking coffee.
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Canada’s workforce is increasingly composed of Uber drivers and other self-employed freelancers, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

In a study published today, StatsCan stated that the share of Canadian workers who are employed in the so-called “gig economy” jumped to about 1.7 million workers, representing 8.2% of the workforce in 2016, from less than 1 million workers or 5.5% of the workforce in 2005.

“The study was motivated by an often-expressed concern that technology and globalization are rapidly changing the nature of employment and work,” the national statistical agency said.

There were two sharp increases in the proportion of gig workers in Canada since 2005, StatsCan noted.

The first jump in gig workers followed the global financial crisis and the subsequent recession, StatsCan said.

The second sharp increase came in 2012–2013, it said. The agency suggested that this increase could be due to a “proliferation of online platforms in Canada that started around that time.”

The study defined “gig workers” as unincorporated, self-employed workers, including freelancers and on-demand workers hired through online platforms such as Uber, TaskRabbit, Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.

Demographically, the study noted, women are more likely than men to be gig workers.

In 2016, 9.1% of all female workers and 7.2% of all male workers were identified as gig workers, it said.

Additionally, gig workers are likely to fall into low-income categories, StatsCan said, noting that the median net income from gig work in 2016 was just $4,303.

Over half of gig workers combined their freelance work with wages from another job, StatsCan said.