The Taylor Swift effect: Labor markets during the Eras Tour

Key takeaways

  • Taylor Swift's concerts draw tens of thousands of people into stadiums for days at a time, leading to spikes in demand for labor
  • Demand for flexible labor in the vicinity of a stadium can reach close to 1,000% of normal levels
  • Further away from the stadium, Swift's concerts have an impact – but only when stadiums are located in major cities

Taylor Swift's Eras Tour has been filling arenas all across the United States since she hit the road in March. Record-setting crowds have shown up to see her sing, and even people without tickets have flocked to stadiums just to bask in the ambience. It's no exaggeration to say that 100,000 people or more might flood into an area during one of her two- or three-night stands.

Of course, all these fans don't just want to hear Swift's songs. They also tend to eat, buy stuff, and generally contribute to the local economy. So what happens if we track the demand for in-person hourly work on hour platform when she comes to town?

A big boost in cities

To find out, we looked at shifts booked on our platform in the past month: before, during, and after Swift's concerts. Within a five-mile radius of each stadium, we compared the average bookings on days with no concert to the days with concerts.

If we include the stadium where Swift is singing and its immediate environs, we see spikes of as much as 1,000% in bookings on concert days relative to non-concert days. But if we eliminate the half-mile radius around the stadium itself, then things get really interesting. For example, here's what happened in Philadelphia, where Swift sang for three nights at Lincoln Financial Field:

7 Jun 2023 Taylor Swift Philadelphia

Here the red lines show the first and last nights of Swift's three-night stand. Shift volumes started rising a day before she arrived, and they were back down to normal on her last day. That last day, May 14, was also Mother's Day, so there may have been fewer people traveling to the concert from outside Philadelphia and/or opting to hang out near the stadium without tickets.

Regardless, an increase in bookings to 500% of the normal level shows just what kind of impact Swift had on the local economy, even excluding the stadium and the area right around it. It's important to note that Lincoln Financial Field sits in South Philadelphia, just a few miles from Independence Hall and the city's historic center. So there were plenty of businesses around that could benefit from an inflow of fans.

Something similar happened in Chicago, where Soldier Field is only about a mile away from The Loop, the heart of downtown:

7 Jun 2023 Taylor Swift Chicago

Here Swift's arrival seems to have doubled the demand for flexible work after a steady ramp-up before her arrival. Demand was still high earlier this week, a day after she left.

Out of town is out of luck

Swift's concerts can make a big impact on local economies when there are a lot of businesses near her arenas that can cater to fans. But what happens when she's singing some distance away from a population center?

That's what happened in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where Gillette Stadium is located. The town itself has fewer than 20,000 people and sits more than 20 miles away from Boston, the nearest big city. There are some shops around the stadium itself, but the rest of the area is pretty woodsy and suburban. And when we exclude a half-mile radius around the stadium, Swift's stint barely made a ripple:

7 Jun 2023 Taylor Swift Foxboro-1

In fact, demand for flexible labor was actually somewhat lower on the days of Swifts' concerts than in the week immediately beforehand. The situation was much the same in and around East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of MetLife Stadium:

7 Jun 2023 Taylor Swift East Rutherford

East Rutherford is several miles and a river away from New York City. People come in droves for concerts and football games, but they don't usually stay for long before or after.

The message here seems to be twofold. First, stadiums are sticky – they can draw people in and keep them in the area long enough to make a difference to the local economy. Second, if you want to use a stadium as a local economic engine, you'd better put it smack in the middle of a city.

This is why municipalities often help to fund new downtown stadiums, at costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. And it's also why they should probably think twice about shelling out for stadiums on the outskirts of town.

Realtime metrics

These metrics, derived from data aggregated across the Instawork platform, compare the two weeks starting 5/25/2023 to the previous two weeks. To control for the overall growth of the Instawork marketplace, only shifts involving businesses that booked shifts in both periods are included:

  • $0.27 drop in hourly pay
  • 0.2% point drop in share of short-notice shifts
  • 1.8 hours drop in hours per existing worker

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