Independent workforce continues to grow, generating $1.3T in revenue
- The U.S. independent workforce remains strong, according to MBO Partners' annual report. The 2018 State of Independence in America Report showed that the number of independent workers rose by 2.2%, for a total of 41.8 million (up from 40.9 million in 2017) and that they generated roughly $1.3 trillion in revenue for the U.S. economy.
- According to the report, the U.S. gained 17 million jobs between January 2011 and January 2018, while the number of people joining the independent workforce remained flat during that time — meaning both independent jobs and traditional jobs are seeing growth, rather than stealing from each another, MBO Partners said. The report shows, however, that 79% of independent workers said they're happier working on their own than working in a traditional job, and 68% said that being an independent worker is better for their health.
- Independent workers aren't afraid of technology taking over their jobs, but more people are moonlighting to make up for losses caused by stagnant wages, the findings show.
Independent workers, also known as contingent or gig workers, have garnered a great deal of attention as of late. Some reports predicted that independent workers will outnumber those in traditional jobs by 2027. But a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicated that the growth in independent workers had actually fallen somewhat since 2005, prompting some confusion throughout the industry.
Regardless, studies indicate that more employers plan to hire independent workers to fill jobs requiring specialized skills and to adjust staffing needs based on labor market changes, especially in a time of low unemployment. Some employers say they intend to turn as much as a third of their traditional full-time positions into contingent jobs.
Based on a 2017 ManpowerGroup study, 94% of employees said they're open to a nontraditional work arrangement. With such a high percentage of people being willing to work for themselves, employers could see more independent workers available for hire in the next few years — and as such, may need to reconsider how they manage an increasingly complex worker arrangement. Many employers don't have an accurate understanding of who works for them, experts previously told HR Dive, and that will have to change if an employer wants to move quickly in this market.