Take a look at our deep dive into the best U.S. cities for delivery workers in the gig economy.
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As online commerce and ordering become more a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, delivery work is becoming more integral to our economy on a daily basis. Americans have become accustomed to having everything from groceries to toilet paper to pizza delivered to their door minutes after tapping on their smartphones. Additionally, the rise of phones and online platforms has allowed more workers to join the gig economy. An important resource for the gig economy is delivery workers, who are responsible for bringing us the goods and deliveries that consumers crave.
In this analysis, AdvisorSmith examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau reported from tax returns that show earnings and employment data for gig workers in the delivery industry. We examined 376 cities to find the places where gig workers earn the most on a cost-of-living adjusted basis, and where gig work is plentiful. We found the 50 best cities for gig economy delivery workers, along with the top-20 small, midsize, and large cities.
Best Cities for Gig Delivery Workers
1. Beckley, WV
Located along I-64, Beckley is a small city in West Virginia that is host to three universities, which partially drive the demand for gig delivery services in the city. A very low cost of living index value of 79 makes the dollars earned by Beckley residents stretch further, while average earnings for gig delivery workers in Beckley are a respectable $28,149.
2. Tyler, TX
The largest city in northeast Texas, Tyler is named after the 10th president of the U.S. The city of Tyler is notable for its production of roses, and the city has the largest rose garden in the country. Tyler is host to the University of Texas at Tyler, which is a driver of demand for delivery services in the city. Tyler offers a below-average cost of living, which enhances the earnings of gig delivery workers. The average salary for gig delivery workers in the city is $31,276.
3. Homosassa Springs, FL
The Homosassa Springs metro area, which encompasses Citrus County, is located just north of the Tampa area in central Florida. The county is home to a campus of the College of Central Florida, which helps drive demand for delivery services. Gig delivery workers in Homosassa Springs earned an average of $28,744 and benefited from a below-average cost of living in the city.
Top Cities for Gig Delivery Workers by City Size
Although large cities offer the most opportunities for gig delivery workers, with their large populations and density, they are also much less affordable for these workers. In our study, we broke down our analysis into small (population under 200,000), midsize (population between 200,000 and 1 million), and large (population over 1 million) cities to represent varying options for gig delivery workers in which to pursue their careers.
Top 50 Cities for Gig Delivery Workers
The table below shows the top 50 cities for gig delivery workers. The table includes the number of gig delivery workers reported in each metro area, the average earnings for each worker, the city’s cost of living, the location quotient score which reflects the density of gig delivery worker jobs, and the city’s size.
|Rank||Metro||Number of Workers||Average Annual Earnings||Cost of Living||Location Quotient Score||City Size|
|3||Homosassa Springs, FL||129||$28,744||95.5||57||Small|
|4||St. Cloud, MN||175||$28,920||97.3||30||Midsize|
|11||Little Rock, AR||558||$21,448||89.4||31||Midsize|
|18||Yuba City, CA||132||$25,197||109.9||34||Small|
|20||South Bend, IN||299||$19,365||88.3||37||Midsize|
|29||Cape Coral, FL||736||$19,978||103.4||43||Midsize|
|32||Fort Wayne, IN||432||$16,970||87.8||40||Midsize|
|34||Punta Gorda, FL||162||$18,519||100.9||47||Small|
|36||St. Louis, MO||3,348||$16,528||91||47||Large|
|46||New York, NY||26,602||$21,391||131||56||Large|
AdvisorSmith examined data published by the U.S. Census Bureau on businesses with no paid employees. This data set, called Nonemployer Statistics, reports data from tax returns filed with the IRS that reported at least $1,000 in income. The businesses represented in this data set include independent contractors with no employees who contract for other parties or companies. We examined the workers in this data set under the NAICS code for Couriers and Messengers. This labor classification includes workers who make local deliveries, such as bicycle couriers, messengers, and restaurant meal delivery.
For the purposes of this study, cities were defined as metropolitan statistical areas from the Census Bureau, so the definition of city may include more than one incorporated city or area. To determine the best cities for gig delivery workers, we examined three major variables for gig delivery workers. These included average earnings for gig delivery workers in each city, the density of gig delivery jobs in a city, and the cost of living in each city.
For each metro area, the Census Bureau reported the total earnings by gig delivery workers and the number of those workers. We divided the total earnings by the number of workers to find the average earnings per worker. We also used AdvisorSmith’s Cost of Living Index to adjust each city’s earnings to reflect the cost of living in each city. Cities with higher adjusted earnings for gig delivery workers received a higher score in our study.
We also calculated the job density for gig delivery workers in each city, which is the proportion of the labor force that gig delivery workers represent. A higher density of gig delivery workers generally reflects that more work is available for these workers. Cities with a higher density also received a higher score in our analysis. We created a composite score for each city that reflects the scores for job density and adjusted earnings.
We also segmented the 376 cities in our study into one of three groups based upon population size. Cities with over 1 million residents were labeled large cities. Cities with between 200,000 and 1 million residents were labeled midsize cities, and cities with under 200,000 residents were labeled small cities.
- AdvisorSmith’s Cost of Living Index
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Civilian labor force and unemployment by state and metropolitan area
- U.S. Census Bureau, Nonemployer Statistics: 2018