At nearly $1 trillion annually, approaching 5% of U.S. GDP, freelance income is on par with major industries. It’s a workforce model a new survey shows has matured into a long-term career path for many workers.
Freelancing in America: 2019 (FIA) is the most comprehensive measure of the independent workforce. Commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union, the study analyses the freelance economy as well as the motivations and challenges of this way of working.
Among this year’s findings:
- Freelance income contributed more to the economy than industries such as construction and transportation, and it’s on par with the information industry.
- For the first time since the survey’s launch in 2014, as many freelancers said they view this way of working as a long-term career choice as freelancers who view it as a temporary way to make money.
- Forty-five percent of freelancers provide skilled services such as programming, marketing, and business consulting.
- Nearly half of freelancers (46%) agreed freelancing gives them the flexibility they need because they’re unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances.
- Every generation had more than 1 in 4 workers who freelanced in the past year—but the younger they are the more likely it is: Fifty-three percent of Gen Z workers (ages 18-22) freelanced.
“It’s remarkable to see this way of working empowering the youngest generation more than any prior generation and also to see the ways freelancing is opening up opportunities for inclusion in the workforce,” said Stephane Kasriel, President and CEO of Upwork.
However, being self-employed isn’t without its challenges. “More than one in three Americans is freelancing, noted Caitlin Pearce, Executive Director of Freelancers Union. “But this workforce continues to face significant challenges in being able to access affordable healthcare, and fundamental protections so they can get paid fairly and on time for the work they do.”
Want a more in-depth look at FIA’s findings?
For further insights into this year’s Freelancing in America survey, please visit here for access to the full press release, the results deck, and other materials. You can also review Dr. Ozimek’s analysis here.
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