Note that I said “freelancers”, not “freeloaders” ….
So, how many?
Place to start is with a definition ….
According to a trade group called the Freelancers Union, there are 5 basic types of freelancers:
- Independent Contractors: These are the “traditional” freelancers who don’t have an employer and instead do freelance, temporary, or supplemental work on a project-to-project basis.
- Moonlighters: Professionals with a primary, traditional job who also moonlight doing freelance work. For example, a corporate employed web developer who also does projects for non-profits in the evening.
- Diversified workers People with multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional employers and freelance work. For example, someone who works the front desk at a dentist’s office 20 hours a week and fills out the rest of his income driving for Uber and doing freelance writing.
- emporary Workers: Individuals with a single employer, client, job, or contract project where their employment status is temporary. For example, a business strategy consultant working for one startup client on a contract basis for a months-long project.
- Freelance Business Owners: Business owners with between one and five employees who consider themselves both a freelancer and a business owner. For example, a social marketing guru who hires a team of other social marketers to build a small agency, but still identifies as a freelancer.
OK, so what’s the answer? How many?
According to a study done by Edleman (a full-service PR agency) …
There are 53 million Americans working as freelancers.
- Independent Contractors: 21.1 million (40%)
- Moonlighters: 14.3 (27%)
- Diversified workers: 9.3 million (18%)
- Temporary Workers: 5.5 million (10%)
- Freelance Business Owners: 2.8 million (5%)
In total, that’s about 1/3 of the workforce … and the number is growing.
These freelancers bill out about $715 billion in fees for services.
That’s an average annual billing of about $13,500.
Also, according to Edleman, the drivers of the change are obvious …
From the demand side, companies are gearing towards smaller permanent workforces that are supplemented by specific-talent part-timers who are hired when needed … without burdensome benefits packages.
From the demand side, freelancers are looking for more flexible work schedules and venues … and less command-and-control supervision.
On the downside — muting the trend — freelancers have to scramble for work work and roll their own benefits packages.
Still, the numbers are big and getting a bigger.
A trend to watch … a veritable uber-workforce.