The State Of Freelancing In The US

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The Freelancers Union, an organization dedicated to helping independent workers in the US partnered with Upwork to commission an independent study of the freelance workforce. Here are the fascinating results.

Between 2014 and 2015, there was an increase of 700,000 independent workers, from 53 million to nearly 54 million, with 43% being millenials. 60% of them said they started freelancing by choice (instead of by necessity), an increase of 7% points from the previous year.

Of the freelancers questioned, 1 in 2 said they would never quit freelancing to go back to a regular job, regardless of how much money they are offered. This is not surprising as 3 in 4 freelancers earned more in their first year than they did at their old job. Additionally, 78% said they’d recommend freelancing to friends and family, while 83% still think the best days are ahead.

But it’s not all great. Considering the staggering number of freelancers out there (1 in 3 workers are freelancers), it’s disheartening to see they still don’t get the same benefits as those employed in regular jobs. As Sara Horowitz (founder of the Freelancers Union) points out:

They don’t have access to unemployment insurance, so during fallow periods they usually have to cannibalize their own savings. They can’t take advantage of tax withholding, employer-sponsored health care, or retirement savings programs.

So it is no surprise that of the 86% freelancers likely to vote in 2016, 62% said they’re more likely to vote for candidates who support freelancers’ rights.

Society and the government have decided that these benefits and protections are necessary for traditional workers to lead a comfortable life. Then why are freelancers, which make up one third of the working population, not enjoying the same benefits and protections?

Do you think this needs to be rectified? Is there a way to allow both sides of the work force to enjoy the same level of protection? Do you agree or disagree that this is an all-or-nothing situation? Let me know in the comments!

Amante Reale

I'm a freelance writer specializing in tech, gadgets, security, cryptography and cryptocurrency. Warning: I am armed with very strong opinions and I'm not afraid to use them. Hire me!