Freelancing is a Popular Choice for Younger, Skilled Workers


Freelancing is becoming the choice work arrangement of many Americans, with the number of freelancers in the workforce rising to 57 million according to a recent Freelancing in America study commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union.

Freelancing isn’t just something that workers are doing on the side or in between full-time jobs.  In fact, the share of those who freelance full time increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% this year and 60% of freelancers say they started freelancing by choice. Moreover, the freelancing population is likely to continue to increase as current freelancers want to continue freelancing and many other workers are looking to start freelancing. A majority, 51%, of freelancers say no amount of money would entice them to definitely take a traditional job in place of their current work arrangement and 59% of non-freelancers say it is likely that they will do freelance work in the future.

Demographically speaking, freelancers are most likely to be young and skilled professionals Freelancers are most likely to be skilled professionals with 45% of freelancers working in programming, marketing, IT and business consulting. While every generation had more than 1 in 4 workers who freelanced in the past year a majority of freelancers are ages 18-22, Gen Z, which had the highest freelancing of any age bracket since the launch of the survey in 2014. The amount of freelancing then drops off as the age increases, with 53% of Gen Z workers (ages 18-22), 40% of Millennial workers (ages 23-38), 31% of Gen X workers (ages 39-54), and 29% of Baby Boomer workers (ages 55+) freelanced.

Is freelancing not an option for your business then you may want to make some cultural changes to be able to keep workers in this competitive economy. The main reason that freelancers are choosing this work arrangement is because of schedule flexibility, as 71% of freelancers agree that freelancing gives them the opportunity to do their work from anywhere they choose. Allowing greater freedom for your employees to work from home and to set their own schedule may help you keep them in-house.

Freelancing isn’t without its challenges, as freelancers share many of the same concerns as many other workers such as healthcare, retirement and being paid fairly. Healthcare costs may be of increased concern to freelancers as 43% of freelancers say that they need flexibility due to health issues that may not allow them to work for a traditional employer instead of freelancing.