- Most people (65%) think that freelancers are happier than other professionals, new follow-up research by ReportLinker shows. The report is a follow-up to a December 2016 survey on opinions and attitudes about freelance work.
- The survey found that 26% of the respondents said they would leave a traditional job to do freelance work. When asked for reasons, 29% cited the the freedom that comes from being your own boss and 23% said better work-life balance. Others said that flexible hours (17%), a need for freedom (10%) and higher compensation (8%) were the main reasons.
- Survey respondents said the major disadvantages of freelance work were a lack of retirement benefits (27%), less financial security (19%) and no job security (18%). Nevertheless, 73% of freelancers said they feel a sense of purpose being part of the gig economy.
Nearly 10 million Americans will make up the gig economy by 2021, according to Intuit and Emergent Research. The growth in the number of workers known as the gig economy — freelancers, independent contractors, temporary workers and consultants — has been explosive during the past few decades.
Another study by MBO Partners predicts that gig workers will overcome the traditional workforce as soon as 2027, with a 60% majority. Even older workers who aren't ready to fully retire supplement their pensions and Social Security benefits by freelancing. The growth in the gig economy demonstrates a strong desire for flexibility and work-life balance among American workers.
But as freedom-loving and independent as freelancers are, many live a "feast or famine" lifestyle because work isn't always steady. And getting paid on time presents another layer of challenges.
Lawmakers have considered updating workplace and wage and hour laws to protect gig workers' earnings and provide portable benefits such as health coverage, retirement plans and unemployment insurance. Congress has been preoccupied with other issues, but could eventually pass legislation to address the needs of the growing gig economy. As employers increasingly turn to gig workers to fill talent gaps, they'll need to watch these developments closely.