The evolution of the internet and digital technologies means that you no longer need to be confined to a 9-to-5 office job. Some people, therefore, have come to see freelancing as the ideal new career in these modern times, while others write it off as just another passing trend.
If you’re wondering which of those is true, some cold and impartial freelance statistics are the way to go. They will give you objective information about this branch of the economy, regardless of whether you’re looking to hire a contractor at a lower cost or are thinking about a career change.
Freelance Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- Freelancing is a choice for more than 61% of people working independently.
- 35.5% of freelancers are working from Europe.
- Freelancers will comprise more than 50% of the US workforce by 2027.
- 68% of freelancers are not only much happier but also see a significant improvement in their lives.
- With over 31 million users, Freelancer.com is the largest digital labor-sharing platform.
- A whopping 96% of freelancers believe the freelance market has changed in the past 3 years.
- Referrals and word of mouth are how 91% of freelancers find jobs.
- 53% of freelancers are optimistic that post-pandemic demand will grow.
Freelancer Statistics Rundown
1. The US has the highest freelance earnings with y-o-y revenue growth of 78%.
A freelance industry report concludes that earnings from freelancing in America spiked massively from 10% in 2018 to an incredible 78% in 2019 meaning it is not only the number of freelancers in the US that has increased but their income too. The UK is ranked second with a more than satisfactory revenue growth by 59% while Brazil follows with 48%. Other countries with booming revenue growth from freelancing are Pakistan, India, Ukraine, the Philippines, and Bangladesh.
2. Freelancing is a choice for more than 61% of people working independently.
Back in 2014, 53% of surveyed freelancers said this was a choice for them. This number rose to more than 61% in 2018. Freelancer statistics clearly show that working independently is something to be taken very seriously, especially since the remainder of folks in the freelancing business state they have found their way into the industry as a result of being laid off or through other means.
3. 35.5% of freelancers are working from Europe.
When we consider the number of freelancers in the world and their location, Europe might just be the cradle of freelancers with over one third operating from there. Freelance statistics show that 29.2% of the global freelance community is concentrated in Latin America and 28% are in Asia. The remaining 10.1% of the freelance workforce work and live on the African continent.
4. A relatively flexible workforce, including remote workers and freelancers, is the preferred choice for 59% of US companies.
The majority of companies in the United States nowadays use remote workers and freelancers to a certain extent. Data on freelancing in America and freelance workforce statistics show that the percentage of companies that opt for a flexible relationship with their employees amounts to 59%. Moreover, 52% of hiring managers hire a flexible workforce because of a talent shortage. In other words, thanks to the wonder that is the internet, companies, and employees are able to work more conveniently than ever before.
5. Freelancers will account for more than 50% of the US workforce by 2027.
Freelancing is destined to continue growing in the future, despite how much it has already skyrocketed. Freelance statistics suggest that freelancers are estimated to rise to more than 50% of the United States workforce by 2027, meaning that the traditional 9 to 5 jobs are slowly dying out. Also, 9 out of 10 freelancers believe the best days of the freelance market are yet to come.
6. Freelancers earn more than 70% of all professionals in the United States (on average, per hour).
Skilled freelancers earn $28 per hour on average, with “skilled” denoting services such as marketing, business consulting, and programming. Freelance economy statistics show that such services account for nearly half (45%) of all freelance work in the United States at the moment, compared to jobs like Lyft driving or dog walking. This means that freelancers are earning more today than ever before.
7. Freelance workers spend an average of 43 hours per week working.
Judging by data from the latest freelance industry report, the majority of freelancers work between 41 to 50 hours per week. To put it in freelance statistics, a total of 38.78% of the freelance workforce spends around 40 hours a week at work. The second largest group or 28.02% works less than 40 hours while around 7% of freelancers spend less than 30 hours per week working. In contrast, only about 5% work more than 60 hours per week.
8. Male freelancers are more common in the US (59%) than their female counterparts (40%).
As one of the most freelancer-friendly countries in the world, the United States is the home to a remarkably large percentage of people who opt to work for themselves. Freelance workforce statistics reveal that the majority of those who embark on a freelancing adventure stateside are male (59%), with fewer females deciding to make the same choice (40%). Also, the average age of a US freelancer is 40 and the majority of US freelancers are located in the South, with most living in suburban areas.
(World of Freelancers)
9. 68% of freelancers are not only much happier but also see a significant improvement in their lives.
One should, however, take this information with a grain of salt. Freelancing statistics confirm that while 68% of freelancers state their lives are much better and happier than before, 77% simultaneously say that ditching their full-time jobs to work freelance has not made them more financially stable. The reasons for this depend on a multitude of factors, and at the end of the day, opting to become a freelancer is a personal preference.
10. Almost half of the female freelancers make less than $25,000 a year.
Freelance economy statistics show that while only 34% of male freelancers fall into the lowest income bracket, a significant 48% of female freelancers are part of this group. This confirms that the gender gap is also present in the freelance market. Male freelancers are 4.5 times more likely to earn over $150,000 which is significantly higher than the income earned by women.
11. Independent contracting or freelancing work is a viable consideration for more than 90% of Americans.
Freelance statistics on jobs reveal that emerging economies are following the model of the United States, where a high percentage of people are open to the possibility of freelance work. To be more precise, more than 97% of workers in both Mexico and India wouldn’t say no to an independent contractor, temporary, contract, or freelance work if given the opportunity. Overall, alternative working models are more highly sought after in countries where younger workers represent a significant part of the population.
12. 68% of freelancers see North America as their biggest client pool.
Freelancer statistics, courtesy of a recent study by Payoneer, show that 68% of freelancers have clients across North America, with Europe taking second place (51% stated they also have European clients). At the other end of the spectrum were Africa (7%), the Middle East (9%) and Australia (15%) as the regions with the fewest clients.
14. Freelancers are constantly working on improving their skill set, with 70% taking part in some kind of training.
Freelancer statistics indicate that a whopping 70% of self-employed workers have taken part in some sort of training over the past six months or so to improve their skills. This compares to just under half (49%) for their 9-to-5 counterparts. Pretty impressive, right?
15. One-third of first-year freelance writers earn up to $10 per hour.
30% of freelance writers make $10USD per hour in their first year and another 20% earn between $26 and $40 per hour according to the latest freelance writing statistics. This (and rates), however, seem to get better after the first couple of years. Fact is, 60% of writers who earn an incredible $76 to $100 per hour have been freelancing for at least 6 years which proves that as in any profession, a freelance worker needs time to demonstrate their skills and develop.
(Small Biz Trends)
16. More than 50% of the freelancers in the US are Gen Zers.
With 53%, according to Generation Z statistics, this age group dominates the American freelance market, making freelance a way of life. Freelancer statistics further indicate that 40% are people aged 23-38, i.e. Millennials, while 31% are Gen Xers. What is interesting though is that although freelancing is a relatively new trend, Baby Boomers (55+) are also playing the game with 29% working on the free market.
17. With over 31 million users, Freelancer.com is the largest digital labor-sharing platform.
In terms of online platforms that exist exclusively to assist people in finding freelance assignments tailored to their needs, freelancing statistics confirm that Freelancer.com is the preferred option for 31 million freelancers. UpWork is ranked second with 17 million registered users, 5 million of whom are clients looking for freelancers and 12 million are freelancers. Feverr.com is the third-largest online platform for self-employed workers or clients looking to hire.
18. Freelancers typically work on several projects simultaneously, but most of them (70%) participate in 2 to 4 projects at a time.
While working on 2-4 projects simultaneously seems to be the strategy of choice for 70% of freelancers worldwide, freelancing statistics for the remainder of the spectrum are equally interesting. Delving into 10 or more projects all at once is a feat only 4% of freelancers attempt. The percentage of freelancers that separate their time between 5 and 9 projects comes in at 13% percent; the same number (13%) of freelancers only opt to work on one project at a time.
19. Living away from the big city is the preference of 7 in 10 freelancers.
When it comes to freelancing life, Upwork statistics reveal some interesting data. Most freelancers would consider it a huge perk to be able to move anywhere, regardless of whether it’s a studio by the waterfront or a remote cabin in the woods. Apparently, 7 out of 10 freelancers today desire the latter. And since not everybody suited for city life, a freelancing job could be a wish come true for professionals who enjoy nature.
20. 72% of US freelancers would have no problem voting for whichever candidate supports the interests of freelancers.
Freelancing statistics also reveal that, compared to non-freelancers, freelance workers are more politically active. Freelancers stateside would also have no problem voting for whichever candidate supports the interests of the freelance community – regardless of which party the candidate belongs to.
21. A whopping 96% of freelancers believe the market has changed in the past 3 years.
The freelance market is very alive and constantly changing and the majority of freelancers (96%) agree on this. Recent technological developments have had a positive impact on freelance workers and, as confirmed by UpWork statistics, 77% now find it easier to get a job because of it. Another 71% confirm that people’s general perception of freelancing as a career path is changing for the better. And since we are discussing positive changes in the freelance industry, here is another interesting data — 64% of workers say that professionals at the top of their industry are more and more choosing to work independently.
22. The average skilled freelancer makes more money than 70% of the US workers.
The freelance workforce contributes almost $1 trillion of their income to the economy which is approximately 5% of the GDP. But this is not all — UpWork statistics state that the median hourly rate of self-employed workers is $20 which is slightly higher compared to what the average US worker makes ($18.80). However, rates increase in accordance with the skills and the median skilled freelancer makes a more than solid $28 per hour. Consequently, the average skilled freelancer earns more than almost three-quarters of the American workforce.
23. 79% of workers in the US are full-time freelancers because they want a flexible work schedule.
One of the many perks of freelance work is flexibility in the work schedule and according to freelance statistics, it is the main reason why 79% of full-time workers have switched to freelancing. The second most common reason why 77% freelance is because they wish to be the bosses of their own time and resources while 74% of full-time freelancers chose this career path because they wanted to work from a location of their choosing. Other common reasons why workers choose the freelancing life are because they want the freedom to choose their own projects, be in control of their financial future, earn extra money, and have independence from office dynamics.
24. 40% of full-time freelancers are more educated than the average US worker.
Freelance workforce statistics show that in terms of education, 40% of full-time freelancers have earned themselves a four-year college degree making them more educated than the average American worker. Only 34% of the US workforce has obtained a four-year college degree. The same research shows that 17% of full-time freelancers hold advanced degrees compared to 12% of the US workforce that rely on this level of education.
25. Referrals and word of mouth are how 91% of freelancers find jobs.
For the majority of freelancers, referrals are the best and most reliable way to get a job but there are other ways too. Freelancer statistics indicate that 48% find work assignments via a website or their personal portfolio while another 37% opt for pitching and outreach. Exclusive job boards for freelancers and newsletters are how 33% of freelancers find work while 23% do it via organizations, clubs, and unions.
26. Around 32% of freelancers believe the demand for freelance work has greatly decreased since COVID-19.
There is not a single business that was not affected by the sudden outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Naturally, the freelance market was not spared. Freelance statistics on jobs show some not so disappointing data with 22.85% of freelancers saying that the demand for freelance services since the outbreak remained the same, and 28.79% saying it has only slightly decreased. A lucky 5.30% of freelancers saw a rise in demand while another 11.43% say it has slightly increased.
27. 73.48% of freelancers did not change their rates due to the pandemic.
Freelance statistics indicate that the majority of freelancers (73.48%) did not bother reducing or increasing their hourly rates. Although the only way to prevail during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was to adapt to the new situation, this did not really affect the hourly rates of freelancers. Only a minimal 3.45% of freelance workers increased their rates while 23.07% were obligated to slightly lower their hourly rates to remain competitive on the market.
28. One-third of freelancers are expecting an over 60% drop in revenues in 2020 because of COVID-19.
It would be naive to believe that the revenues of any business would remain the same after COVID-19. Freelancing statistics show that 34.1% of independent professionals believe revenues would decrease by over 60% while 29.4% are expecting the drop to be between 30% and 60%. A rather more optimistic percentage of 26.4% believe the decrease would be up to 30% and only 7.6% say that their revenues would drop to 10% or less.
29. 53% of freelancers are optimistic that post-pandemic demand will grow.
Freelance predictions about the future of freelancing are positive. And as it turns out, optimism is a shared characteristic of the self-employed with over three-thirds believing the demand for freelance services will either increase or revert to what it was prior to the pandemic. Freelance statistics reveal 19.14% strongly believe they will see significant growth in demand, 34% say it will slightly increase while 20.88% are confident it will revert to the same level as it was before. Only around 26% of freelancers are certain their freelance assignments will slightly or significantly decrease.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many freelancers are there in the US?
An increasing number of people around the world choose to freelance. As one of the biggest markets globally for both clients and freelancers, the United States is a pioneer when it comes to this particular line of work. A recent survey by the Freelancers Union and Upwork shows that approximately 35% of the United States workforce (around 57 million) freelanced in 2019. In comparison, in 2014, or the first year the same study was conducted, the number of freelancers amounted to approximately 53 million.
How many Millennials are freelancers?
A report from the Freelancers Union and Upwork shows that close to one-half of millennials are already freelancing. The same report also reveals that freelance workers are outpacing the growth of the remainder of the workforce by as much as three times.
How much can a freelancer earn?
Freelancer earnings vary across the globe and depend on the industry. Statistics show that those in the legal field earn the highest pay, at an average of $30 per hour (those who practice tax law, to be precise). At the other end of the spectrum, freelance administrative work professionals and customer support freelancers rake in an average of $11 per hour, but there are a lot of industries in between. For example, freelance economy statistics show that programming and IT freelancing bring in an average of $21 per hour, design and multimedia freelancers earn $20 per hour, sales and marketing professionals take home $18 per hour, those in finance and management are paid $19 per hour, engineering and manufacturing get $21 per hour, and general legal assistance professionals earn $28 per hour. At the same time, whether someone can live off freelancing depends on their industry, how many hours a day they clock in, the specific projects they work on, and other variables.
What is freelance work?
Freelance work is another term for contract-based work. Instead of offering permanent positions, companies hire self-employed workers for specific jobs whose payment is agreed upon in advance. These workers are called freelancers and do not seek permanent employment, but rather make themselves available to work temporarily through short-term contracts. These independent professionals typically find jobs through temporary staffing agencies, classified ads, and more recently, the internet, via online freelance markets and platforms, social media, etc.
Freelancing is not just about work, it’s about a way of life. And it’s here to stay, with people around the world becoming increasingly infatuated with it. As these freelance statistics show, this type of working is well on its way to transforming into a highly sought-after career path while creating a pool of experienced professionals to benefit various industries. What is more, the stats and facts presented here prove that freelancing prevails even in times of crisis.