Sharing Economy Survey: More Than Half of Americans Try to Make Extra Income

In today’s economy, many Americans are looking to downsize and make some extra cash. By offering up goods and services to others, they are contributing to what some have begun to call the “sharing economy.” Some people simply sell excess belongings on sites like eBay, while others go as far as renting out their homes when they travel. Additionally, several startups have popped up to cater to these sharers. How many Americans are already taking part in this sharing economy, and how many would consider participating?

sharing economy

Extra Income

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 55% of Americans said they do something to bring in extra income aside from their regular jobs. 17% of respondents said they don’t currently have any side projects that bring in extra income, but they would like to do so. And 29% do not bring in any extra income. Those who work part time were much more likely to bring in extra income, while retired people and students were less likely to take on extra projects for cash.


Classified ads, both print and online, have been giving people the opportunity to share goods and services for years. Though today’s sharing landscape is evolving and many have begun to use sites that cater specifically to one type of good or service, classified ads may provide some insights into how many Americans might eventually take part in the new sharing economy. 25% of respondents said they have purchased goods from classified ads. 13% said they have purchased services from classified ads. 21% said they have sold goods using classified ads. And 6% have sold services using classified ads. 59% of consumers said they have not bought or sold anything using classified ads.

Extreme Sharing

Though many Americans might be likely to buy and sell goods online, they are far less likely to share large things like their homes. Sites like allow users to rent out their homes to others while they travel. But 82% of respondents said they would never even consider renting out their homes. Only 2% have already used similar sites to rent their homes while traveling, and 4% said they would definitely do it. Another 12% of survey takers said they would consider renting out their homes.

Of course, taking steps like renting out your living space to strangers found through an online startup requires a certain amount of trust, which Americans seem to be lacking. Only 2% said they are generally very trusting of people they haven’t met. 21% said they are somewhat trusting of people. 55% said they don’t really trust people they haven’t ever met. And 23% said they don’t trust people at all.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Newspaper classifieds from Flickr

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 18 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.