In the past few years, the growth of freelancing has rapidly accelerated. As the modern workforce continues to evolve, it looks as if freelancing will continue to play a larger and larger role in how people earn a living.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the stats pertaining to the growth of freelancing as well as a few predictions about what the future might hold in store.
The Current State of Freelancing
Right now, there are 57.3 million people freelancing in the United States, contributing an estimated $1.3 trillion to the economy each year. This last figure is a full 30% higher than the amount of money freelancers contributed to the economy just one year ago.
Today, freelancers make up 36% of the workforce in the United States. If the current growth rate continues, freelancers will make up a majority of the workforce in the USA by 2027.
Simply put, these numbers are astounding. The fact that freelancers will soon make up a majority of the US workforce alone dictates that freelancing will play a major role in our economy going forward, even more considerable than the role it already plays.
Factors Driving the Growth of Freelancing
The rapid explosion of the freelancing economy is not an unexplainable phenomenon, and there are several key underlying factors that have contributed to its growth. These factors include:
- Advances in Technology – One of the biggest factors driving the growth of freelancing has been technological advances. Keep in mind that the internet alone is a relatively new invention, and the various platforms, tools, and technologies that make freelancing possible are even more new to the scene. 74% of freelancers who are already established said that they their workload has increased over the past few years, and the technological advances that connect clients with freelancers all over the world have certainly played a major role in making this increased workload possible.
- Freedom and Flexibility – Ideals about the perfect career are changing. Not too long ago, the ideal career was a steady 9-5 office job with good benefits and a good salary. For many, this remains the ideal career. For a growing number of others, though, the ideal career is one that offers the freedom to set your own hours, travel when you please, and be your own boss. Since freelancing offers all of these things, more and more people are choosing freelancing as their career.
- A Changing Workforce – 47% of all millennials work as freelancers – more than any generation to come before them. In fact, 50% of the entire freelancer workforce is comprised of millennials. By and large, millennials are more tech-savvy than previous generations and also value the freedom and flexibility that freelancing offers more than the generations before them. As millennials continue to comprise a larger and larger portion of the workforce, their attraction to freelancing is helping spur its growth in a big way.
Factors Holding Back the Growth of Freelancing
While there are plenty of reasons for someone to choose a freelancing career, there are also still a few factors that hold some people back. The most common factors that troubled the freelancers surveyed include:
- Income Predictability – When working as a freelancer, it’s often hard to know what your weekly paycheck is going to be. Some weeks it might be much higher than average and other weeks it might be much lower. While these peaks and troughs usually average out, many people prefer to be able to know for sure how much they are going to earn each week.
- Lack of Benefits – Working as a freelancer is the same as being self-employed, meaning that benefits such as medical and dental insurance must be paid for out of pocket rather than being paid for by your employer. This lack of benefits is a sticking point for some.
- Difficulty Finding Work – There’s two types of work that successful freelancers must complete: the work itself and working to market themselves and find new clients. This latter category is something that many people take issue with, as they would prefer to only focus their efforts on the work itself rather than having to spend time drumming up business.
Interestingly, though, most of these points will likely become less problematic as the freelancing economy grows. Already, there are organizations such as the Freelancer’s Union working to provide benefits to freelancers. Difficulty finding work will also become less of an issue as more and more businesses begin to rely on freelancers and seek them out. Lastly, once a steady workload is secured, income predictability becomes less of a concern as well.
What the Future of Freelancing Holds in Store
Driven largely by technology and also by changing ideals, the world economy is rapidly evolving. Many jobs that were commonplace not too long ago have either been greatly diminished or are no longer as desirable as they once were. Meanwhile, freelancing jobs continue to grow rapidly – so much so that freelancers will likely comprise a majority of the US workforce in just a few years.