- A study of skilled U.S. independent workers showed 5.6 million of them generated about $135 billion in revenue in 2018, according to freelance platform Fiverr. The company commissioned Rockbridge Associates to produce the report, which analyzed data from sources including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Federal Reserve Bank.
- One in five of the workers surveyed by Rockbridge worked in creative services, a contingent of 700,000 workers across 25 top metropolitan areas identified by researchers. More than half (54%) of all workers surveyed lived in the top 25 areas. The report said skilled independent workers' jobs were "unlikely to be automated out of existence" due to the creative and service-oriented nature of their work.
- The population of skilled independent workers grew 14% from 2011 to 2016, according to the report. Independent workers in Austin and Nashville each grew by more than 20% during those years, while Detroit, Boston and Chicago experienced the slowest growth. The top 25 markets had 60% more revenue per independent worker than the rest of the nation, Fiverr said, and skilled independent workers in the top 25 markets had an average revenue of about $39,200, compared to the $36,400 national average for skilled independent workers.
Research indicates employers are increasingly open to the idea of bringing aboard independent workers. In fact, 60% of HR professionals in a 2018 Korn Ferry study said they were hiring more contingent workers than they had in years past.
"Across the United States, revenue from skilled freelance work represents 1.1% of national GDP, but in these top 25 markets that number can get as high as 2%," Charles Colby, principal, chief methodologist and founder of Rockbridge Associates, said in a statement. "It's not only that these markets have higher than average revenues per skilled freelance worker. The implication is that their impact on local economies is greater because of their ability to draw revenue from outside their market and provide highly specialized services that are critical to growing local businesses."
The demand for these types of work arrangements may be just as strong from workers themselves. But employers' plans to pursue organizational agility must also take into account the legal and economic implications of independent workers. The U.S. Department of Labor has resources for employers looking to accurate classify workers, as does the Internal Revenue Service.