Monthly Labor Market Report: The supply chain revival strengthens the market

Key points

  • Surveys of Instawork Pros suggest a strengthening labor market, with Pros able to find full-time hours if not full-time positions
  • More than 70% of Pros say they could commit to working five shifts a week for at least a month
  • Demand for custodial and production roles, particularly for higher-skilled warehouse workers, is growing while pay for leisure and hospitality roles weakens, tracking the revival of the supply chain and the end of the summer events season

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 looked slightly stronger in October than in September, buoyed by a revival in the supply chain. Business hiring for light industrial roles look likely to push the balance of pay upward in November:

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.

This month we are focusing on the differences between Pros' labor market preferences and their labor market outcomes. Here are the differences between the shares of Pros who had a specific type of job and the share who wanted it:

After rising in August and September, the gaps in Pros with full-time and part-time jobs came down slightly in October, suggesting an improving labor market. But Pros were somewhat less satisfied with their ability to find work via the Instawork app (though the level is still lower than when we began tracking data in March) and via other apps.

In terms of hours, the shares of Pros able to work 31 to 50 hours per week coincided almost exactly with preferences. But the share of Pros who wanted to work 51 hours or more grew relative to the share who wanted so much work:

Taken together, these data suggest a strengthening labor market, albeit mainly versus September and not previous months.

In September we also asked Pros how long they could commit to a position that offered five shifts per week. A clear majority said they could commit to at least a month, with more than half ready to commit for three months or more:

Only 8% of Pros said they couldn't commit for at least a week. Along with the gaps between actual kinds of work and preferred kinds of work, this is further evidence that Pros are underemployed in steady positions relative to their willingness to work. Instawork is offering an increasing number of long-term assignments to help rectify this problem.

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. Charlotte, NC

 1. Santa Barbara, CA

 2. Louisville, KY

 2. Inland Empire, CA

 3. Philadelphia, PA

 3. Houston, TX

 4. Las Vegas, NV

 4. St. Louis, MO

 Roles with the highest growth of flexible work  

 Roles with lowest growth of flexible work  

 1. Custodial

 1. Housekeeper

 2. Event setup/takedown

 2. Concession/stand worker

 3. Runner

 3. Bartender

 4. Busser

 4. General labor

Demand for custodial workers continued to climb in October, while demand for roles typically associated with large events – concession/stand workers and counter staff/cashiers – had a second straight month of relative weakness following the end of the summer season.

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

Demographics in the Pro labor pool were fairly steady in October, though there was an uptick in the share of active Pros who identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino:

Pay Signal Index

Hourly pay at businesses posting shifts for production looks set to increase for the third month in a row, as the supply chain heats up following the wave of inventory reductions that began earlier this year. While other light industrial roles see steady pay, hospitality and other service pay may be headed downward next month. Pay at businesses involved in maintenance continues to bounce around, with increases anticipated after two months of widespread drops, mirroring the increasing demand for custodial shifts:

Indexed trends in hourly pay

Again reflecting demand for custodial shifts, hourly pay is expected to rise in November and resume the trend that began in the summer of 2022. High-skill warehouse roles, which are also in strong demand as logistics businesses automate their operations, saw rising pay again in October and may have further increases in November. As above, the balance in the labor market for leisure and hospitality may be shifting toward supply rather than demand, with pay expected to decline somewhat.

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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