A new survey has shown that predictions stating that freelancers are likely to make up at least 40% of the US workforce by 2020 are accurate, with the number of freelancers in the US surpassing 55 million. The results of the survey released this morning by The Freelancer's Union validate these predictions by indicating that freelancers now make up 35 per cent of the US workforce, significantly growing in the past two years. According to the survey, titled "Freelancing In America: 2016", there are now 55 million freelancers in the US who earned a collective total of US $1 trillion this year. The number of freelancers in the US has increased by over 1 million people in 2016, with previous "Freelancing in America" studies indicating that 53.7 million people were working on demand in 2015 and 53.0 million people were freelancing in 2014.
Freelancer growth in the US (million)[/caption] On-demand talent platforms, such as Expert360, Upwork and Freelancer, have also facilitated this rise in freelancing, with 73 per cent of survey respondents indicating that technology has made it easier for them to find work. The large scale survey of gig economy workers comes at a politically critical time for freelancers in the US, with both major parties indicating the need for more traditional, full-time jobs as a significant part of their campaign. The survey found that, although largely ignored thus far by both major parties' campaigns, freelancers would be willing to vote for the party that recognised their needs. Close to 70 per cent of freelancers surveyed indicated that they would vote for a candidate that explicitly represented freelancers' interests. Equally, 67 per cent of contingent workers surveyed highlighted that they would support having the same access to health and retirement benefits, despite their employment status. The survey reflects the results of a recent study by Expert360 into the way that large corporations in Australia are using on demand talent. As freelancer numbers continue to grow, businesses are increasingly looking towards the high skilled gig economy for contingent staff with 80 per cent of ASX listed companies indicating that they will use on-demand talent "always" or "most of the time" to fill skills gaps by 2020 (figure 1.2).
The study also established that 80 per cent of Australian corporations with revenues over $1b are experiencing a skills gap.
Key Findings From Freelancing In America: 2016
- Freelancing is growing -- The freelance workforce grew from 53 million in 2014 to 55 million in 2016 and currently represents 35% of the U.S. workforce. The freelance workforce earned an estimated $1 trillion this past year, representing a significant share of the U.S. economy.
- People are increasingly freelancing by choice as the job market changes -- Asked whether they started freelancing more by choice or necessity, 63% of freelancers said by choice -- up 10 points (from 53%) since 2014. The majority of freelancers said that today, having a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than having one employer.
- Technology is enabling freelancing -- 73% of freelancers said that technology has made it easier to find freelance work -- up 4 points (from 69%) since 2014. Additionally, 66% of freelancers said the amount of work they have obtained online has increased in the past year.