New report: How gig workers shaped a tech solution to access critical benefits

by Adrian Haro, on December 2, 2021 at 5:52 PM

The Workers Lab is excited to release the latest learnings from our efforts to improve access to public safety net benefits for gig workers.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, national lawmakers passed legislation that enabled gig workers to qualify for unemployment benefits for the first time ever in every state, which was great. However, we quickly saw that gig workers struggled to gather and submit income information from a variety of sources/platforms. We also heard from states that they were having a hard time verifying applicants' income from gig work, which delayed initial claims and created months-long backlogs, leaving far too many workers without any financial security or recourse.


The Workers Lab acted quickly by teaming up with our trusted partners at the financial technology company Steady to develop and test a new automated income verification tech solution. We partnered with workers from the Philadelphia Drivers Union and Gig Workers Rising, as well as experts Julia Simon-Mishel, Andrew Stettner, and Donald Lowman, Jr. to ensure that our solution was fully informed by gig workers themselves. We spent dozens of hours talking to workers, involving them at every step of the process to ensure that the final product fully meets their needs. The result is an easy-to-use automated income verification solution for both workers and state agencies. It provides gig workers with unprecedented access to their past income from multiple sources – including their gig accounts – and makes accounting for expenses and verifying income simple and straightforward.

This report includes an in-depth look at the process we undertook, the conversations we had, the intel that workers shared, the lessons we learned, and the ways those lessons are shaping our next steps. We’re thrilled to share this report, and to hear more from you as we continue analyzing how the country’s outdated support programs can be updated to better serve workers.

Topics: Design Sprint| Learning Hub