The freelance economy has changed a lot over the last few years. When I first started freelancing in 2010, it was something you did when you couldn’t find a job. Quite frankly, people assumed you were either flaky or broke.

Fast forward a few years and we’re seeing some major growth in the freelance economy. Whether you’ve found yourself freelancing because of a slow overall economic growth, you need some extra cash or because you wanted more freedom, it’s now considered a viable career path.

Here are just a few of the big changes currently happening in the freelance economy.

New York City passes the, “Freelance Isn’t Free Act”

The most recent big change in the freelance economy is the passage of the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act in New York City.” Believed to be the first of it’s kind, the act gives freelancers legal protection against wage theft. In other words, it protects freelancers from getting late payments from clients or just getting stiffed all together.

It also increases the potential rewards should a freelancer have to take a client to court. Here’s what you need to know about the act:

  • It requires that company’s sign contracts with freelancers.
  • Freelancers who do not receive payment on time are due double wages.
  • The court would order the freelancer’s client to pay legal fees.

According to The New York Times, under this new act, freelancers are to file complaints with the city’s Office of Labor Standards. The office will tell the companies about the complaints and seek a response.

This is really big news for freelancers and we’re hoping to see legislation like this across the country in coming years.

The freelance economy grew to 35 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2016

Another big change to the freelance economy is that freelancers now make up 35% of the U.S. workforce. In fact, it increased from 53 million freelance workers to 55 million in the last year alone. The freelance workforce also earned over $1 trillion in the past year.

Freelancers vote in large numbers

The same study mentioned above also found that freelancers vote in large numbers. In fact, a whopping 85 percent of freelancers say they are likely to vote this election. That’s about 47 million people!

Because they are becoming a larger voting block, they want candidates to talk about the needs of independent workers. They are also more likely to vote for a candidate who supports freelancers in having access to healthcare and retirement benefits.

The freelance economy is still too new to see how it’s going to affect politics, but it is going to be interesting to see how freelancers vote this year and how the conversation about workplace benefits may change.

People are choosing to freelance

Perhaps one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the freelance economy is that people are now choosing to leave their jobs to begin freelancing. Like I said, back when I started in 2010 freelancing was something you did when you couldn’t find a job. In fact, that’s exactly why I started. I needed more money and needed to find a job quickly.

Fast forward to 2016 and 63 percent of the freelancers surveyed in the study mentioned above said they started freelancing by choice. The economy has shifted in their favor and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.

 

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Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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