State of Freelancing 2015, Part 1: The Where and Why of Freelancers

freelancer personal finance

In this two-part series, we look at the state of freelancing in 2015 around the world and how it has changed since the previous year. The overall impression is that freelancing is healthy and continues to grow based on statistics provided by The Freelancers Union in partnership with Edelman Berland.

State of Freelancing 2015

Making a Huge Impact in the U.S.

There are 53 million U.S. freelance workers who now consider themselves freelancers across all types of industries – from programming and IT functions to graphic design and social media to content and photography. These 53 million individuals are also adding a considerable amount to the U.S. economy to the tune of $715 billion this year. This amount may be set to rise as nearly one-third of these workers have noted that they are in greater demand and have more work than ever before. Recognizing the trend toward freelancing, more companies are now making apps that directly address the needs of freelancers as they run their own small businesses.

Rising Freelancing Force in the UK

In the UK, freelancing is also on the rise, according to the All Party Parliamentary Group and the Professional Contractors Group.

It was reported in 2011 that there are now 1.4 million freelancers in the UK that are adding to the economy, enjoying a better work-life balance, and enhancing their family life.

By all indications, it would seem that, when a new study is done, the number of freelancers (including both freelance designers and freelance programmers) will have grown significantly in line with the positive changes in the U.S.

Advancing Across the European Union

Since 2004, a group, known as iPros, has been the fastest growing segment in the EU labor market. The growth has shown a 45% between 2004 and 2013, going from 6.2 million iPros to 8.9 million.

They now make up 25% of all professional, scientific, and technical employees in the EU as well as 22% of all arts and entertainment workers.

Where in the World are Freelancers?

The 2012 Freelance Industry Report noted that the majority (78%) of all freelancers were found in North America, followed by Europe (11%), Asia (5%), South America (3%) and the collective geographical area of Africa, Australia, the Middle East, Oceana and Central America (3%).

Why Freelance?

When those not currently freelancing were surveyed on what they would do given the opportunity to take on extra work on the side to make money, the 2012 Freelance Industry Report stated that 80% would willingly do so.

For those that do freelance, there is a long list of reasons why it is so attractive to them. The primary reason is the flexibility it offers to set their own schedules and work when they want (within deadlines, of course!). Beyond that, freelancing also provides a variety of work, the freedom to be one’s own boss, and the ability to work from anywhere and make independent decisions. The result of these advantages seems to then offer a more balanced and satisfying life for all types of freelancers – from single people who can spend more time with friends or traveling to parents who get to enjoy additional quality time with their children to older people who can continue to supplement their income in their twilight years.

Additionally, for those in developing countries, it creates an entirely new job opportunity not previously offered. Lastly, for companies and startups that could use temporary talent, it delivers a pool of worthy candidates that facilitates workflow and ramps up productivity while keeping overhead costs much lower.

Fifty-three million U.S. freelancers and rising couldn’t agree more and plan to make it their long-term career.

Read Part 2: