Freelance Worker Statistics

Freelancers: A Thriving Industry - 1 in 3 Americans Are Now Freelancers

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Freelancing is one of the fastest-growing and most stable work forces today..

Freelancer Workforce Statistics

The freelance workforce is powerful and growing.  In 2014, one in every three Americans (53 million workers, or 33% of the total U.S. workforce) had done freelance work within the past year.

These figures represent freelancers defined as independently employed individuals, and does not include telecommuters or non-independent contracted businesses who provided a service or product to a business or organization.

To provide a frame of reference for the tremendous growth in the freelance industry, in 2005 there were only 10.3 million freelancers in the US.  The demand for freelancers survived the economic crash of 2008, and while the mainstream workforce unemployment rate went up sharply, the income earning freelancers in the work force continued to rise.

The number of freelancers increased by more than 400 percent between 2005 and 2014!

It is important to clarify that these numbers did not climb simply due to more people being forced to freelance (and therefore, were simply unemployed individuals who called themselves freelancers) but counts those who actually earned some sort of income from freelance work.

Here are a few more impressive statistics:

  • In a 2014 survey, 50% of freelancers reported being able to find work within three days using online networking and social media. 
     
  • A full one-quarter of freelancers reported being able to find work within 24 hours.
     
  • Freelancer.com boasts 11 million freelancers are now using their platform to find work.

Jeremy Neuner, a writer for Quartz.com offers the following:

"By 2020, more than 40% of the US workforce will be so-called contingent workers, according to a study conducted by software company Intuit in 2010. That’s more than 60 million people. "

(2014) Freelance Workforce Statistics

  • 2.8 million (5%) freelancers own their own businesses
  • 5.5 million (10%) are temporary workers
  • 9.3 million (18%) freelancers are diversified (have more then one source of income or job)
  • 14.3 million (27%) moonlight as freelancers
  • 21 million (40%) freelancers are independent contractors (40%)

Why are freelancers so in demand?

The main reason employers use freelancers and contractors for goods or services is money.  Freelancers cost businesses less to retain than hiring a full-time employee, and, in most cases, freelancers do not get benefits such as insurance and paid leave.  They can be hired on a job-by-job basis and let go without the risk of being hit with a wrongful termination lawsuit. And, because freelancers are usually hired for a very specific task, they are already specialists in their fields and do not require training to complete the job.

Freelancers also help small businesses grow before they are fully ready to scale up (hire more employees) but need to take on more work to grow.

  Freelances can also be let go if a company experiences budget problems without concern for severance pay or benefits payouts.

Note:  There are some exceptions regarding benefits if the freelancer is employed under a work for hire agreement or as an independent contractor.  In some states there are certain tests regarding the control a company has over a freelancer as to whether or not they are an independent contractor or a contractor.

Sources:

1 in 3 Americans Work on a Freelance Basis. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://time.com/3268440/americans-freelance/

40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://qz.com/65279/40-of-americas-workforce-will-be-freelancers-by-2020/

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