Monthly Labor Market Report: Pockets of demand in a softening labor market

Key points

  • Holiday trends boosted demand for hospitality roles and for shifts across Florida metro areas in December
  • Skilled warehouse workers continue to be one of the hottest categories of flexible work, with rising demand and hourly rates
  • Instawork labor market surveys suggest workers are having a harder time finding full-time and part-time jobs
  • More than a third of Instawork Pros looking for shifts say a full-time job is all they need in the current labor market

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.

The labor market as a whole looked slightly weaker in December, though demand for flexible labor continued to push up hourly rates in some industries. The overall balance of changes in pay saw rates fall 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.

In December the differences between the shares of Pros with full-time and part-time jobs and the shares of Pros who wanted those jobs were back to their highs of April 2023:

The drop for full-time jobs in November was partially attributed to a higher share of new Pros who already had full-time jobs. But the newer figures suggest that the labor market was weakening in December, even for part-time work, despite holiday hiring.

In parallel with these results, the share of Pros wanting 51 hours of work or more minus the share who could get those hours rebounded sharply, and the difference for 41-50 hours of work also rose to another new high:

In addition, Pros with 30 hours or fewer in the reference week were particularly dissatisfied. These data again suggest additional pressure on household budgets, with workers looking for more hours to make ends meet.

In December we also asked Pros what sorts of working situations they needed in the current labor market:

Given that these responses came from Pros who were looking to work Instawork shifts, the 36% who said they only needed a full-time job is an enormous share. These Pros would not be looking for Instawork shifts if they had full-time jobs. Almost a quarter said they would have to work multiple jobs regardless. Just 21% of Pros said they preferred to work multiple jobs at the same time.

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. Jacksonville, FL

 1. Columbus, OH

 2. Miami, FL

 2. Sacramento, CA

 3. Orlando, FL

 3. Cincinnati, OH

 4. Philadelphia, PA

 4. Atlanta, GA

 Roles with the highest growth of flexible work  

 Roles with lowest growth of flexible work  

 1. Bartender

 1. Barista

 2. Event setup/takedown

 2. Food service worker

 3. Concession/stand worker

 3. Prep cook

 4. Warehouse - intermediate

 4. Custodial

Three Florida markets led the way in demand for flexible work in December, as vacationers flooded the Sunshine State. Demand for workers in hospitality roles also rose during the holiday period, but once again there was strong demand for intermediate warehouse associates as well. With increases in automation in logistics over the past few years, the demand for these higher-skill workers has generally been very strong.

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 share of men among Pros working shifts rose again in December, as did the share of Pros who identified as Hispanic/Latino:

Pay Signal Index

Hourly pay at businesses posting shifts for production looked set to increase in December but ended up staying flat, and now the early data again suggest a spate of increases in January. In other sectors, changes in pay are expected to be roughly in balance between increases and decreases:

Indexed trends in hourly pay

Hourly pay for intermediate warehouse associates is spiking in early data for January, in line with the increased demand for the role in December. Pay for hospitality roles continued to rise in December, though only a few roles may see increases in January. Hourly pay for bartenders and bussers may lead this group with increases of just under 2%:

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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 2022, 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  



 Personal care and service



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 44% 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 2021 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 2021 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:


 Event setup and takedown


 General labor

 Concession or stand workers

 Line cook

 Counter staff or cashier

 Prep cook




 Warehouse associate - entry level

 Event server

 Warehouse associate - intermediate