Unemployment and Online Labor: Evidence from Microtasking


Publication History

Received: January 8, 2021
Revised: December 23, 2021; April 12, 2022; June 10, 2022
Accepted: June 13, 2022
Published Online as Articles in Advance: Forthcoming
Published in Issue: Forthcoming



We analyze the relationship between unemployment and the supply of online labor for microtasking. Using detailed US data from a large microtasking platform between 2011 and 2015, we study the participation and the number of hours supplied by workers in the US. We find that more individuals registered on the platform and completed microtasks as the unemployment level in the commuting zone increased. This effect was strongest in regions with a high share of low-skill workers. Our analyses of the intensive margin, the wage elasticity, and the temporal work patterns suggest that the increased participation was likely motivated by an effort to substitute income. Our findings suggest that microtasking platforms appear to be an interesting online labor market for less educated workers. However, we also observe very low retention rates, indicative of a solely transient participation effect.

Additional Details
Author Ulrich Laitenberger, Steffen Viete, Olga Slivko, Michael Kummer, Kathrin Borchert, and Matthias Hirth
Keywords Crowdworking; Online platform; Unemployment; Wage Elasticity
Page Numbers
Copyright © 2023 MISQ. All rights reserved.