Monthly Labor Market Report: Heating up in the winter

Key points

  • For the second straight month, data from surveys of Instawork Pros suggested a stronger labor market
  • February brought a surge in sign-ups among Spanish speakers and a higher share of active Hispanic/Latino workers
  • Demand for flexible labor spiked in vacation destinations including Orlando and Las Vegas
  • The front end of the events season also drove demand for shifts

Every day, the Instawork platform handles thousands of transactions involving businesses and hourly professionals, generating a huge amount of data on hourly pay as well as other aspects of the labor market. This report summarizes some of the major trends in demographics, roles, and worker constraints in regions across the United States.

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The data are also compiled into the Instawork Pay Signal Index (PSI) and indexed trends in hourly pay. Because businesses can book shifts in advance on the Instawork platform, the metrics include forward-looking data for the current month as well. Please refer to the appendix for explanations of the methods behind each metric.

Starting this month, we are presenting reorganized, rebalanced, and re-indexed statistics with July 2022 as their base, for greater ease of use.

The labor market as a whole looked hotter in February, with increases in pay predominating and other indicators also showing signs of strength. In March we expect these factors to moderate slightly:

In-app survey data

Our in-app surveys track Pros' labor market situations on a monthly basis. For details on methods and questionnaires, please see the Methodological Appendix below.

Pros had an easier time finding the full- and part-time jobs they wanted in February, the second straight month for which this was true. This suggests a stronger labor market, with more opportunities for permanent employment:

Pros still wanted to work shifts via the Instawork platform, however. As our Pro network ballooned to roughly 6 million workers, the difference between Pros looking for shifts and those able to work shifts rose above 10% for the first time since we started tracking these data.

Also for the second straight month, Pros had an easier time finding more than 40 hours of work per week in January. There was increasing difficulty for Pros who wanted to work 30 hours or fewer, perhaps an indication that employers are prioritizing full-time work:

In January we also asked Pros about their experience of remote work. Many were already working remotely, including about 1 in 6 doing so via an app. More than half said they hadn't worked remotely but wanted to, and only 5% had no interest at all:

These results suggest that preferences for remote work and overall flexibility are not unique to highly paid knowledge workers. In-person hourly workers who have been left out of the remote work revolution are still eager to participate..

Recent growth in flexible work

Because flexible work is one of several options that workers might have in the labor market, increases in flexible work may mean decreases in other areas. The following statistics measure differences in shift work booked on the Instawork platform (measured in hours), month over month:

 Regions with the highest growth of flexible work  

 Regions with lowest growth of flexible work  

 1. Orlando, FL

 1. Cleveland, OH

 2. Las Vegas, NV

 2. Inland Empire, CA

 3. San Antonio, TX

 3. Denver, CO

 4. Pittsburgh, PA

 4. Columbus, OH

 Roles with the highest growth of flexible work  

 Roles with lowest growth of flexible work  

 1. Event Setup and Takedown

 1. Brand Ambassador

 2. Prep Cook

 2. Housekeeper

 3. Warehouse - Intermediate

 3. Concession / Stand Worker

 4. Counter Staff / Cashier

 4. Warehouse - Entry-Level

Shifts related to parties and catered events picked up again in February as the early part of the season got underway. Demand continued to grow for higher-skill warehouse shifts, which can be seen as a sign of increasing automation. grew less quickly in January during the post-holiday lull. There was also rapid growth in some of the nation's top vacation markets, including Orlando (likely from the school break) and Las Vegas (likely from corporate trips for high performers in 2023).

Technical note: To control for the growth of the Instawork platform, only business locations that have participated for at least two months before the start of the comparison period are included. Changes in hours are included only for roles for which businesses booked shifts during both months.

Demographics of flexible workers

The gender balance on the Instawork platform was steady in February, but the share of Pros who identified as Hispanic/Latino continued to rise, reaching an all-time high:

This change has corresponded to a surge in sign-ups among Spanish speakers, who accounted for 8% of new Pros in February, the highest figure since May 2018.

Food service and hospitality

After a long, steep uphill climb during the past few years, hourly pay in food service and hospitality has stabilized over the past several months. Slightly more businesses are poised to lower pay in March, as in the previous three months:


Hourly pay rates for bartenders rose in February but are expected to drop again in March, while other front-of-house roles saw small declines in pay and look to be stable in March:


Hourly pay for back-of-house roles is also expected to be stable or slightly lower next month:

Custodial and cleaning

Businesses are continuing to push pay lower for cleaning roles, though pay may be stable for the specific roles tracked here:

Manufacturing and production

The uptick in some manufacturing industries that began last year is set to continue for one more month, though not as strongly as in February:

Retail and sales

Sales roles continue to be in high demand, with a preponderance of businesses raising pay, led by counter staff and cashiers:

Logistics and warehouse

Hourly pay for high-skill warehouse roles may finally stabilize in March after a slight drop in February, despite growing demand. Overall, pay in the sector is expected to be steady on the Instawork platform:

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Methodological appendix

Instawork in-app surveys

Five surveys per month are delivered via the Instawork Pro app. Random samples of Pros who have worked at least one shift in the past 12 months may be shown a one-question survey when they open the details for a shift. No Pro receives more than one survey per month. The surveys continue until they collect 1,000 responses.

The repeating questions on Pros' labor market situations are as follows:

1. Please mark all the kinds of work you will do this week:

  • regular full-time job
  • regular part-time job
  • shifts booked on Instawork
  • other app-based or temporary work
  • no work

2. Please mark all the kinds of work you would like to do each week:

  • regular full-time job
  • regular part-time job
  • shifts booked on Instawork
  • other app-based or temporary work
  • no work

3. In total, how many hours will you work this week at all your jobs?

  • 0-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • 51 or more

4. In total, how many hours would you like to work each week at all your jobs?

  • 0-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • 51 or more

Instawork PSI (Pay Signal Index)

The PSI gauges the overall direction of changes in hourly pay from month to month, much the way a purchasing managers’ index measures supply chain activity.

To begin, for each month, we measure the average hourly pay offered by each business on our platform for each role in each region. If the business offered shifts for the same role in the same region during the previous month, we record whether the average rose or fell. A rise is recorded as +1, a fall as -1, and no change as 0.

Next we weight this signal by the average number of shifts the business offered for that role across the two months. For example, if the business offered 10 shifts for line cooks in the Houston area during February and 18 shifts for the same role in the same region during March, then the weight would be 14.

We group these weighted signals by the Census Bureau’s occupational categories and take the weighted average for each category. Then we multiply the weighted average by 50 and add it to 50. This yields a PSI between 0 and 100. At 0, the PSI implies that all businesses in the sample offered lower pay. At a PSI of 100, all businesses offered higher pay. At a PSI of 50, businesses that raised or lowered pay did so with equal weight (or loosely, equal numbers of shifts).

At present we cover six major occupational categories. These are the numbers of workers they represented in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ counts of hourly workers in 2023, and their shares of the total reported number of hourly workers:

 Occupational category

 Workers (1,000s)

 Share of hourly workers




 Food preparation and serving  









 Building and grounds cleaning  



To create a national PSI, we calculate a weighted average by weighting the PSI for each occupational category by its share of hourly workers above. The resulting national PSI represents occupational categories that cover roughly 41% of hourly workers in the American labor force.

Indexed trends in hourly pay

Sample selection for our pay trends is similar to the method for the PSI. Businesses that book shifts for the same role in the same region during consecutive months are the units of observation. For each pair of months, we calculate the change in the average hourly pay offered for the given role in the given region. Examples of roles are line cooks, forklift drivers, and custodial staff.

Next, as for the PSI, we weight the changes in pay by the average number of shifts across the two months. Then we calculate a weighted average of the changes at a national level for each role. To create an indexed trend, we have chosen July 2022 as the starting point, where the indexed hourly pay for each role is set to 100. We then use the monthly changes to map the trend from August 2022 onward.

At present we publish the indexed trends in hourly pay for 14 of the roles staffed on our platform:

 Indexed trends in hourly pay available for the following roles:


 General Labor



 Concession or stand workers

 Line cook

 Counter staff or cashier

 Prep cook




 Warehouse associate - entry level

 Event server

 Warehouse associate - intermediate