A 2013 report by Quartz states that over 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by 2020. That is more than 60 million people.
The Quartz report cites 2006 figures from the federal government that show around 42.6 million or 30% of the workforce were independent and contingent workers (e.g. contractors, temps, self-employed).
At present, there are more than 53 million freelancers in the United States, according to a Freelancer Union Servey.That is equivalent to 34% of the entire American workforce.
Of the 53 million, 21.1 million or 40% are independent contractors; 14.3 million or 27% are moonlighters; 9.3 million or 18% are diversified workers; 5.5 million or 10% are temporary workers and 2.8 million or 5% are freelance business owners.
The study involved 5,050 working adults in the U.S. over the age of eighteen, 1,720 of whom were freelancers and 3,332 were non-freelancers.
The survey showed that freelancers add $715 billion to the U.S. economy every year. This can be attributed to the fact that one in three or 32% of freelancers report an increase in demand for their services in the past year compared to only 15% who admit they have seen the demand for their services decrease.
When survey participants were asked if they expect their wages to increase along with the increase in the demand for their services, 43% said they expected their income to increase the following year.
Several years ago, when a person was self-employed, it meant he or she could not get a “real job.” Other people thought freelancers were just too lazy to hold a 9 to 5 job. Not so, today. In fact, according to 65% of participants in the Freelancers Union survey, freelancing as a career path has gained more respect and recognition today than it did three years ago.
More people want to go into freelancing because they have had enough of the daily traffic and commute. Many freelancers prefer to work at home to be able to spend time with their family while earning income. This is especially true for moms.
Those who have jobs in the corporate world but want to supplement their income are also considering freelancing as an alternative, according to 80% of those who responded to the survey.
Freelancing has become an easier option for many due to easier access to technology, said 69% or seven in ten of the survey participants. Not surprisingly, 42% report that they have done freelance work through the internet.
In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 1.4 million freelancers according to the Professional Contractors Group. British freelancers contribute an estimated £21 billion to the UK economy.
In the European Union, there were 8.9 million freelancers as of 2013, a 45% increase from just 6.2 million freelancers in 2004.
Of those who responded to the survey, 38% of millennials (those born in the eighties), are freelancing compared to 32% of those over 35. In addition, 82% of millennials are the most optimistic about the future of freelancing compared to only 74% of those over 35.
This is the new way to work. It is fast becoming the new trend and is seen by many as the smarter way to work.