Tech Supports the Growth of the Freelance Economy

 
 
By Karen A. Frenkel  |  Posted 12-21-2016 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Tech Supports the Growth of the Freelance Economy
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    Tech Supports the Growth of the Freelance Economy

    This year, 55 million American adults took part in the freelance economy, and many of them believe that technology makes it easier for them to find work.
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    Freelance Economy Grows
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    Freelance Economy Grows

    The freelance economy grew to 55 million Americans this year, representing 35% of the total workforce, and an additional 2 million freelancers since 2014.
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    Tech Enables Freelancers
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    Tech Enables Freelancers

    73% of the survey respondents said technology has made it easier to find freelance work, up from 69% in 2014. 66% said the amount of work they get online has increased since 2015.
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    Freelancers' Contributions
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    Freelancers' Contributions

    Freelancers contributed $1 trillion in earnings to the U.S. economy this year.
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    Freelancing as a Choice
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    Freelancing as a Choice

    63% of respondents started freelancing as a choice, up 10 percentage points since 2014. 79% prefer freelancing because they feel respected, engaged, empowered and excited to start each day.
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    Enjoying Flexibility
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    Enjoying Flexibility

    The most frequently cited reason for choosing to freelance is the flexibility and freedom it affords. Part-time freelancers are more motivated by earning additional income.
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    Working Fewer Hours
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    Working Fewer Hours

    Full-time freelancers work an average of 36 hours a week. Most feel they work the right amount of time.
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    Focus on Empowerment
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    Focus on Empowerment

    70% of the respondents said a discussion of how to empower the independent workforce is needed, up from 7 percentage points since last year.
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    Freelancers' Top Concerns
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    Freelancers' Top Concerns

    Being paid a fair rate, Unpredictable income, Debt
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    Freelancing Is More Stable
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    Freelancing Is More Stable

    63% of freelancers said that having a diversified portfolio of clients is more stable than having one employer.
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    Earnings Are Better
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    Earnings Are Better

    The majority of freelancers who had left a full-time job made more within a year of their departure. Half of them said that no amount of money would entice them to take a full-time job.
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    Charging More
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    Charging More

    46% of full-time freelancers raised their rates in the past year, and 54% plan to raise them next year.
 

The freelance economy continued to grow this year, fueled, in part, by technology, said a new study commissioned by the freelance website Upwork and the Freelancers Union. Conducted by Edelman Intelligence, the survey, "Freelancing in America: 2016," was produced for the third year in a row. The objectives of the research study were to quantify the number of people freelancing in the United States, assess why these people are freelancing, and gauge the future outlook for freelance workers. The online survey tapped 6,002 American adults who have done paid work in the past 12 months, including both freelancers and non-freelancers. "This year's study shows that freelancers are a diverse but vital part of the U.S. economy, contributing over $1 trillion in freelance earnings to the economy. As their ranks continue to swell, they have come to represent a largely untapped voter block that could have huge implications for our political system," said Sara Horowitz, the Freelancers Union's founder and executive director.

 
 
 
 
 
Karen A. Frenkel writes about technology and innovation and lives in New York City.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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