Freelance marketplace UpWork teamed up with the Freelancers Union to create the “Freelancing in America: 2016” report. This report is filled with useful interesting facts about freelancing from two of the biggest freelancer focused organizations in the country.
Continue on for nine interesting facts about freelancing from the report. If you’re interested in reading the full report and prior year results, they are available here.
There are 55 Million Freelancers in the United States
The latest study shows that 35 percent of the entire American workforce is participating in the freelance economy. That is a growth of about 1 million over the prior year, and over one third of all workers in the United States. Each of the last two years added about 1 million new freelancers.
Of those freelancers, 54 percent earned more than they used to within a year of leaving their full-time job. Freelancers are moving up in the world!
Interesting Facts About Freelancing – Freelancers Earned $1 Trillion in 2016
The freelancing economy is big. Much bigger than most people realized. In fact, the 55 million freelancers in America earned $1 trillion in 2016! That is twice as much as Walmart is forecasted to earn in 2016, the biggest revenue earning company in the world.
Dividing by the 55 million freelancers in America, that is an average of $18,182 per freelancer in annual earnings. But considering that half of freelancers are earning somewhere else as well, it is safe to assume that many freelancers are earning quite a bit more and quite a bit less than the $18,182 mean income.
79 Percent of Freelancers Think Freelancing is Better Than Traditional Employment
Four out of five freelancers think that freelancing is better than traditional employment. It would be easy to say that “the grass is always greener” when looking at different forms of employment, but the vast majority of freelancers think the grass is perfectly green where they are today. The feel more respected, empowered, and are more excited to start each day than their traditionally employed counterparts.
That does leave about 20 percent who think traditional employment is better. One of the great things about freelancing is fluid ability to come and go and change your work style.
The Freelancers Union Has 300,000 Members
The Freelancers Union is the largest organization of freelancers in the country, and its membership has swelled to 300,000. Founded by Sara Horowitz, The Freelancers Union helps freelancers get benefits like health insurance and partakes in civic advocacy to further the rights of independent workers.
While it is free to join this is a great way for freelancers to unite for a voice that can’t be ignored.
63 Percent of Freelancers Started Freelancing by Choice
Over half of freelancers are freelancers because that is what they want to be doing, not because they were forced to start freelancing because of personal or financial needs.
While a big number of freelancers were forced into their role due to circumstances that made freelancing a necessity and not the top choice, as we know 79 percent of freelancers think what they are doing is the best way to work. No matter how they got here, most freelancers prefer it to other forms of work.
Freelancers Work 36 Hours Per Week
Americans work more hours than most other countries, with full-time employed individuals working an average 47 hours per week. Freelancers work an average 11 hours per week less than full-time employed workers. That adds up to about 550 hours per year, or 23 full 24 hour days.
Full-time traditional workers spend nearly an additional full month each year behind the keyboard (or cash register, equipment, or wherever they work). I know I would rather spend that 550 hours with my family, or sleeping, or enjoying my favorite hobbies. How many hours do you work each week on average?
46 Percent of Freelancers Raised Their Rates in the Last Year
In the last 12 months, 46 percent of freelancers raised their rates over the prior year and 54 percent plan to increase rates in the coming year. While some big companies have instituted wage freezes and wages are not increasing as quickly as productivity, freelancers get to keep the money (less taxes) when they increase their rates.
As freelancers work more, they make more too.
53 Percent of Freelancers Have Multiple Income Sources
I started my freelancing journey as a side hustle, and it turns out I was far from alone. I worked full-time while side hustling online for eight years before I took the plunge to full-time freelancing. Little did I know that 53 percent of freelancers are earning from multiple sources.
25 percent of freelancers are “moonlighting” and keep a full-time job in addition to their freelancing income. 28 percent are diversified workers. An example is someone who has a part-time job for a local business and spends other hours supplementing their income with freelance work like writing, website development, or driving for Uber. That is 17 million people who do some sort of freelancing in addition to another job.
50 Percent Would Not Give Up Freelancing for Any Amount of Money
Freelancing is about more than money. In addition to earning for doing a job that they often love, freelancing gives work-life flexibility that other careers can’t. Freedom to set your working hours, work where you want and when you want, and enjoying jeans day every day of the week, are just a few of the many benefits freelancers enjoy.
Interestingly, half of freelancers would not give that up for any amount of money. While you shouldn’t work for free, freelancing is about a lot more than money. And no amount of money would separate some freelancers from the lifestyle and job that they love.