With unemployment still high and long-term jobs hard to find, apps aim to help users earn money by listing small, quick jobs in their vicinity.
Gigwalk, an app for Android and iPhones, lists short-term jobs, or gigs, lasting between 30 minutes to two hours and paying US$12 to US$15 per task.
Typical gigs include taking pictures of menus and product displays, surveying salespeople, or making sure that goods are in-stock and properly displayed. It could also involve setting up a display, or making sure a manager understands pricing.
“Temp work has become permanent for many workers,” said Matt Crampton, chief technology officer for San Francisco-based company Gigwalk.
In a crowded job market, the number of people working in temporary jobs has soared.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in June that 2.7 million people were working in temporary jobs, up from approximately 2.5 million the previous year.
Another app called Field Agent, available for the iPhone, lists short jobs such as audits, in-store and at-home research, opinion surveys and checking on-shelf availability.
Most of the jobs are in the US and range from US$2 for answering a short survey to US$20 for visiting a restaurant and responding to questions about it.
Jobs usually take less than two hours to complete. The company said it has more than 260,000 users.
With Gigwalk users can pick jobs that match their schedules and location. The app will also notify them when there is a gig nearby.
“If I’m shopping at the Walmart and the app detects that I’m there, my phone will vibrate and notify me that I can make US$12 answering questions about a shelf of energy drinks, for example,” Crampton said.
Gigs start out at a basic level and the app collects data on a worker’s reliability, productivity and conscientiousness, and will match them with more advanced tasks that can pay up to US$50 a job if they are qualified.
“We match them to jobs where they’re most likely to succeed,” Crampton said.
About 60 percent of workers on Gigwalk have another job and use the app to augment their income. Another 30 percent are in transition, or looking for a new opportunity, and 10 percent use the app as their primary means of income, according to the company.
“They run it as a business, but it takes a lot of planning, thinking and initiative,” Crampton said.
Gigs are available in more than 6,500 cities in the US, Canada and Britain. Payments for the jobs are made through PayPal.