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Freelancing to Gain Workforce Majority
Posted November 10,2017 by CUNA Economics

Sixty-three percent of gig workers freelance by choice.

“Nearly 50% of millennial workers [are] already freelancing,” notes an upwork.com article reporting on the “Freelancing in America: 2017” survey.  Millennials, who comprise a larger part of the workforce, participate in gig jobs at a higher rate than any other generation, and they may lead the trend that within ten years freelancers will make up the majority of the labor force.

In all, 36% of American workers are freelancers, the equivalent of 57.3 million people.  These workers are responsible for contributing $1.4 trillion to the economy, up nearly 30% from the prior year.

What’s driving the freelancing trend?

Survey results show gig workers hope to be ready for the future.  The world of work is in evolution, and 54% of employees say they fear their work will be obsolete within 20 years.  “Reskilling is therefore critical,” the article notes, and freelancers take advantage of “skill-related” learning opportunities at a rate of 55%, compared to 30% of workers who do not freelance.

Sixty-three percent of gig workers are freelancers by choice, an increase over 53% who did so in 2014.

Other survey findings:

  • Varying levels of income for freelancers require they make savings withdrawals with greater frequency than other workers—true for 63% of gig workers who tap savings at least monthly, compared to 20% of those holding traditional jobs;
  • Sixty-nine percent of freelancers say views of gig work as a career are becoming more positive;
  • Seventy percent of freelancers would rather have higher income in exchange for employer-provided benefits;
  • Gig workers more often find work online—for 71%, work found online was on the upswing this year, a five point increase over last year; and
  • Top reasons freelancers choose jobs working in a “sharing economy” are ability to be their own boss, freedom to determine hours worked, opportunity to decide where they work, and a chance to earn additional income.  

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