Wednesday 24 October 2018

Majority of US workforce tipped to be freelance within a decade

Stock image
Stock image
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The majority of workers in the US are expected to be freelancers by 2027, according to a new study.

Currently 36pc of the US workforce, 57.3 million people, are engaged in freelance work, and contribute approximately $1.4trn annually to the US economy.

The report, based on a survey of 6,000 working adults in the US, found that people are increasingly freelancing by choice, with 63pc of freelancers saying that they were doing so by choice rather than necessity, an increase of 10 percentage points since 2014.

There were a number of reasons for the increase in the freelance economy, with increased stability cited as a factor. Despite perceptions of freelancing as being unstable, two-thirds of the freelancers surveyed said that they believe having a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than one employer.

On average, the freelancer surveyed had an average of 4.5 clients per month.

However, income predictability remains a key concern for freelancers, the study from Upwork and the Freelancers Union in the US found.

As the workplace changes, 54pc of the US workforce said that they are not very confident that the work they do will still exist in 20 years.

However, it appears that freelancers are doing more to combat this, with just over one in two freelancers having participated in skill-related education in the last six months compared to 30pc of non-freelancers.

“The workforce is experiencing changes as never before, with economic transformation driven by new technologies and automation,” said Sara Horowitz, founder and executive director of Freelancers Union.

“We must be prepared to face the challenges of the future, and build the organisations that will support the 21st century workforce.”

There are a number of reasons why increasing numbers of people are choosing to freelance. These include perceptions of freelancing as a career becoming more positive, and increasing amounts of freelance work becoming available online.

Over 70pc of those surveyed said that the amount of work they obtained online had increased in the past year.

The main motivation for people to start freelancing work was the desire to be their own boss. This was followed by a desire to choose when they work, to choose the projects that they work on, and to choose their working location. The desire to earn extra money was cited as the fifth motivator for people in their decision to freelance.

Those surveyed by research firm Edelman Intelligence were also asked their opinion on healthcare in the US, with 60pc of freelancers surveyed of the opinion that the US

Congress should keep the Affordable Care Act.

However, the majority (70pc) would prefer to take home more pay and purchase benefits on their own rather than receive benefits from an employer or client.

In terms of who freelancers are, the majority (35pc) class themselves as ‘diversified’ workers, while 31pc are independent contractors.

The remainder are made up of temporary workers, freelance business owners, and moonlighters.

Online Editors

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business