- The number of freelance workers is growing three times faster than the rest of the workforce, adding $1.4 trillion annually to the economy, a new report from Upwork and Freelancers Union shows. "Freelancing in America: 2017" found that 57.3 million Americans are freelancers, representing 36% of the U.S. workforce. Near half of millennials (47%) are already freelancing.
- Other key findings show that 55% of freelancers are preparing for the future and automation's possible takeover of their work by reskilling, compared to 30% of other categories of workers; more people are choosing to be freelancers (63%), up from 53% since 2014; and and most freelancers (63%) think they have more job security with a portfolio of clients, averaging 4.5 a month, than with one employer.
- Freelancers may outnumber other workers by 2027 or possibly sooner, the report notes. But freelancers are uniquely challenged by income predictability and the ability to buy health insurance, pay down debt and save more money.
The terms freelancers, gig workers, contingent workers, contractors, along with temporary workers and consultants, are used interchangeably for the most part. Independent work is what they all share. Interestingly, this group seems primed to prepare themselves for coming changes brought around by the 'future of work' thanks to its propensity for development and learning.
Some employers reportedly plan to transform up to one-third of their full-time employee positions into contingent workers' slots, a Randstad Sourceright study shows, largely so they can keep up with business demand while filling talent gaps. The skills gap problem has only gotten worse in recent years, forcing employers to reconsider their relationship with contingent and gig workers.
And although employers are addressing the labor shortage by expanding their searches to include freelancers, an MBO Partners report says that employers will have to compete for contingent workers. The majority of freelancers (82%) can choose their clients, the best of whom, they say, treat them as valuable team members, appreciate their work and pay them well. That means employers may have to adjust how they approach the employee value proposition and ensure it offers all workers — full-time and not — a productive, personal and engaging work experience.