Looking for the latest freelance statistics?
Whether you’re seeking data to back up a blog post, whitepaper, or sales letter, or you’re just curious about the state of freelancing in 2021, we’ve got you covered.
Our comprehensive list of statistics will paint you a vivid picture of today’s gig economy.
Read on to learn the latest trends in freelancing.
Let’s dig in!
U.S. Freelance Statistics Signal Consistent Growth
Freelance workforce statistics issued by Upwork show that the freelance economy made up nearly 5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, outpacing construction, transportation, and mining.
You shouldn’t be!
Freelance jobs have become a legitimate option for a significant number of U.S. workers. And that trend continues to grow.
But don’t take our word for it. Check out these statistics taken from Upwork (and others as cited).
- Fifty-nine million American workers freelanced in the past year.
- That number translates to 36% of the total U.S. workforce.
- Figures are up 8% from the previous year; that’s 2 million new self-employed workers!
- American freelancers earned $1.2 trillion in annual payouts.
- The majority (51%) of freelancers say that no amount of money would entice them to take a traditional job.
- Freelance job postings rose by 41% during the second quarter of 2020 due mainly to the global pandemic.
- According to a CNBC article, freelancers performing skilled services earned more per hour than 70% of workers in the overall U.S. economy.
Are you looking for more encouraging reasons to freelance? These statistics offer additional evidence:
- For example, 63% of freelancers and 70% of skilled freelancers state that the freelance job market has changed significantly compared to three years ago.
- Nearly 77% of freelancers and 80% of skilled freelancers believe technology makes it easier to find freelance work.
- Another 70% of freelancers and 77% of skilled freelancers say perceptions of freelancing as a career are more favorable than in previous years.
- Roughly 66% of freelancers and 71% of skilled freelancers noted a more significant demand for freelancers.
Increasingly, workers want to work on their terms.
And some find that working as an independent contractor or part-time solopreneur eases the transition to full-time gig work. Freelancing offers the flexibility to do just that.
So, what’s the key takeaway here?
The freelance workforce is alive and well in the United States, and growth in this space shows no sign of slowing down.
So, who is freelancing in the United States?
Check out these figures from Statistica.com.
- Nearly 60% of gig workers started freelancing by choice.
- Another 40% of freelancers perform independent work out of necessity.
- Freelancers commonly provide skilled services, with 45% offering programming, marketing, and consulting.
- GenZ workers (18-22) comprise 53% of the freelance workforce.
- 40% of millennials (ages 23-38) freelance.
- About 31% of Gen X (ages 39-54) workers are freelancers.
- Working baby boomers (55+), to the tune of 29%, are freelancers.
- 59% identify as male freelancers, and 40% as female freelancers.
- More than half of freelancers are younger than 38.
- The average age of freelancers is 40.
Education seems to play a role as well:
- 35% of people with a high school education (or less) are freelancers.
- About 35% of people with some college and an associate degree freelance.
- A solid third of those earning a Bachelor’s degree (33%) are freelancers.
- Post-grads are most likely to freelance, with 41% of this group participating.
Not surprisingly, a key reason people freelance is flexibility:
- An astounding 46% agree that a skilled freelancer enjoys more freedom than the traditional worker.
- A majority of freelancers (71%) agree that freelancing allows them to work wherever they choose.
- Another 43% cite health issues as the root cause of their need for flexibility.
- 1 in 5 freelancers has a health issue that prevents them from working for a traditional employer.
- 40% of freelancers cite personal circumstances as driving a need for flexibility.
- Nearly half (46%) of freelancers are caregivers versus 38% of U.S. workers overall.
- About 40% of freelancers have children under 18 versus 35% of U.S. workers overall.
What Do Freelancers Earn?
When it comes to average pay (more from LinkedIn) a skilled freelancer can do well:
- The median hourly rate among skilled freelancers is $28.
- Skilled gig workers make more per hour than 70% of workers overall in the U.S.
- Among freelancers overall, the median hourly rate is $20.
- Based on data from payscale, the average freelance writer earns $23.57/hour.
To understand the earnings potential for remote workers, consider this research by CNBC showing the average pay for:
- Network and system administration: Average wage of $69/hour.
- Search engine marketing: Average hourly wage of $66.
- Product design: Average wage of $61/hour.
- Mobile development: Average hourly wage of $58.
- Email and marketing automation: Average wage of $61/hour.
These in-demand and high-paying opportunities can command six-figure salaries. Specific segments of freelancers certainly have high earnings potential!
In general, an independent professional makes more money than they did when traditionally employed. As you will see, not all reported the same experience.
- For example, 60% of freelance professionals reported making more money.
- On the other hand, 30% did make less while working as an independent gig worker.
- An additional 10% noted no difference in pay.
- More than half of freelancers make at least as much as they did working for an employer within the first six months of quitting a job to freelance.
- 1 in 4 freelancers quit or left a job with an employer to freelance.
Freelancers get paid in various ways (often working with a large portfolio of clients).
- Roughly 48% of freelancers receive compensation on a fixed fee basis.
- Another 29% of gig workers generate pay hourly.
- And about 23% of independent workers enjoy both fixed and hourly fees.
Top Platforms to Find Freelance Work
The growth in freelancing job opportunities resulted in a surge of online job sites and marketplaces focused on freelance employment. These online platforms include:
- The professional community earned over $2.3 billion on Upwork in 2020 across more than 10,000 skills.
- About 40% of clients hired talent in multiple categories.
- Roughly 50% of Fortune 500 companies are Upwork clients.
- 73% of job seekers have college degrees, making this a good choice for skilled freelancers.
LinkedIn is the platform of choice for many professionals in the freelance industry.
- Expert LinkedIn freelancers (powers users) leverage their knowledge to get better results than non-freelancers performing the same job functions.
- Freelancers received two times as many recommendations.
- Freelance professionals belong to 1.4 times as many groups.
- Freelancers receive 1.3 times as many endorsements.
- A quick search of LinkedIn’s job postings using ‘Freelance’ and ‘Worldwide’ generated over 55,000 results.
FlexJobs distinguishes itself from other platforms in that they are a membership site that charges a weekly or monthly membership fee.
- FlexJobs proclaims itself as the #1 site worldwide for finding remote, work-from-home flexible job opportunities since 2007.
- The platform lists job opportunities spanning 50 categories in positions ranging from entry-level to Executive in multiple career fields.
Freelancer is a massive, free-to-use crowdsourcing and freelancing marketplace. Users bid on jobs posted by employers located all over the world.
- This marketplace connects over 53 million employers and global freelancers from over 247 countries, regions, and territories.
- Freelancer has grown through acquisition. They snatched up at least nine other marketplace segments to create a truly global source for freelancers in diverse career fields looking for gig work.
The Exciting Future of Freelance
The current demand for gig workers is solid. But what does the future look like for freelancers?
- Ever-increasing amounts of work are sourced online, with 68% of skilled freelancers saying the percentage of work obtained online has increased in the past year.
- 66% of skilled freelancers currently obtain projects online.
- Previous clients offer impressive new projects that skilled freelancers take on, with 41% saying they found new work through these channels.
- 67% of full-time freelancers agreed with the statement ‘I expect my income from freelancing to increase in the next year’.
- A solid 91% of freelancers believe the best days are ahead!
- Among freelancers who are moonlighting (they haven’t quit their day job), 40% consider leaving their job to freelance full time.
- And 8 of 10 non-freelancers said they would do additional work if available and if it enabled them to make more money.
- About 6 of 10 non-freelancers say it is likely they will do freelance work in the future.
Bonus Freelance Facts & Statistics
Are you wondering what industries or niches recently performed the best? A recent FlexJobs report taps several job categories that may surprise you!
- Healthcare services, such as billing, scheduling, and providing medical care, are popular.
- Therapists, both physical and mental, are increasingly providing treatment plans and rehabilitation on a freelance basis.
- Freelance mortgage and real estate professionals independently help people buy, sell, or rent properties.
A few final fun facts about freelancing to round out our collection of mind-blowing statistics :
- Gig workers tend to be more politically active than non-freelancers. This is especially true of younger, skilled, and full-time freelancers.
- Freelancers participate in diverse work options: 45% offer skilled services/labor, 30% unskilled, 28% sell goods, and 29% engage in other activities.
- Freelancing is hard work! In a 2020 survey by freelancemap.com, 57% admitted to working over 40 hours per week.
Alright! If you are surprised, but not overwhelmed, we have achieved our goal. So, what is the next step in your journey?
How Will YOU Use these Freelance Statistics?
You came seeking the most up-to-date freelance statistics.
You asked, and we delivered by showing you the expanding landscape of the gig economy by the numbers.
But what will you do with this compelling data?
Whether you’re looking for hard facts to back up your next blog post, whitepaper, or sales video, or you’re just curious about the changing face of the new economy, the next step is yours.
Let’s see what you can produce with this great resource!