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Freelance Statistics

Last updated: 05.03.2021
Author: Maya

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 way of working 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 considering a career change. 

Freelance Statistics (Editor’s Choice)  

  • Over a third of freelancers are working from Europe. 
  • Freelancers will account for over 50% of the US workforce by 2027.
  • Freelance workers work an average of 44 hours per week.
  • One-third of first-year freelance writers earn up to $10 per hour. 
  • With 31+ million users, is the largest digital labor-sharing platform.
  • 50% of the freelancers in the US are Gen Zers. 
  • 67% of freelancers typically complete up to 3 projects per year.
  • 53% of freelancers are optimistic that post-pandemic demand will grow. 

General Freelancer Statistics

1. The US has the highest freelance earnings with YoY revenue growth of 68%.

A freelance industry report concludes that earnings from freelancing in America spiked massively from 10% in 2018 to an incredible 78% in 2019. This means that 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 of 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 60% of people working independently.

These figures were obtained in a recent UpWork survey of more than 6,000 US workers over the age of 18. This number is estimated to be around 57 million Americans, says UpWork’s study. 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 is on the African continent.


The Global Freelancer Community by Location

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 rely on remote workers and freelancers to a certain extent. Data on freelancing in America and freelance workforce statistics show that the percentage of companies that opted for a flexible employment model amounted to 59%. Moreover, 61% of hiring managers say working with external talent is what keeps their full-time team up-to-date and informed.

(2020 Future Workforce Report)

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 50.9% of the US workforce by 2027, meaning that the traditional 9-to-5 jobs are slowly dying out. Also, projections are that if growth continues, over 67 million Americans will be freelancing by the end of 2021. What this means is that 42% of the US workforce will be on the freelance market.

(Website Planet)

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. 


7. Freelance workers spend an average of 44 hours per week working.  

Based on data from the latest freelance industry report, the majority of freelancers work between 31 and 50 hours per week. Freelance statistics further indicate a total of 37% of the freelance workforce spends between 41 and 50 hours a week at work. The second largest group or 32% works less than 40 hours, while around 6% of freelancers spend less than 30 hours per week working. In contrast, only about 5% work more than 60 hours per week. 

(Freelancer Map) 

How Many Hours Do Freelancers Work a 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 majority or 62% of US freelancers are white, 16% are Hispanic, 12% are African or of African descent, and only 5% are Asian or Asian/American. All other ethnicities account for 4% of all US freelancers. 

(Statista, Statista)

Gender & Ethnicity Distribution of US 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 freelance has not made them more financially stable.

(Freelancing Hacks) 

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. 

(Slash Workers) 

11. Independent contracting or freelance 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 a 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. 

(Manpower Group) 

12. Freelancers see North America as their biggest client pool.

Freelancer statistics obtained in a recent study by Payoneer show that the majority of freelancers (36%) have clients across North America, with Europe taking second place with 27%. At the other end of the spectrum were Africa (4%), the Middle East (5%), and Australia (7%) as the regions with the fewest clients. 

(Website Planet) 

Freelancers' Clients by Location

13. 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.

(Website Planet) 

14. One-third of first-year freelance writers earn up to $10 per hour. 

30% of freelance writers make $10 per hour in their first year, and another 20% earn between $26 and $40 per hour according to the latest freelance writing statistics. Rates 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 the case is with any profession—a freelance worker needs time to demonstrate their skills and develop.

(Small Biz Trends) 

15. 50% of freelancers in the US are Gen Zers. 

With 50%, according to Generation Z statistics, this age group dominates the American freelance market. Freelancer statistics further indicate that 44% are people aged 23-38, i.e. Millennials, while 30% 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 20% working on the free market. 


Age Distribution of US Freelancers

16. With over 31 million users, 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 is the preferred option for 31 million freelancers.

(Website Planet) 

17. 67% of freelancers typically complete up to 3 projects per year.

While working on an average of 3 projects seems to be the strategy of choice for 67% of freelancers worldwide, freelancing statistics for the remainder of the spectrum are equally interesting. Delving into 10 or more projects per year is a feat only 8% of freelancers attempt. The percentage of freelancers that separate their time between 5 and 9 projects comes in at 12%, and approximately 21% of freelancers only opt to work on one project a year.

(Freelancer Map)

How Many Projects Do Freelancers Complete per Year

18. Living away from the big city is the preference of 7 out of 10 freelancers.

When it comes to the freelancing life, Upwork statistics reveal 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 in 10 freelancers today desire the latter. And since not everybody is suited for city life, a freelancing job could be a wish come true for professionals who enjoy nature.


19. More than 60% of US freelancers would vote for access to affordable healthcare, and protection against discrimination and harassment. 

Freelancers typically have no problem voting for whichever candidate supports the interests of the freelance community. US freelancing statistics also reveal that, compared to non-freelancers, freelance workers are more politically active. 88% of freelancers stateside had registered to vote for the 2020 US presidential elections mainly because they want access to affordable healthcare (66%), protection against discrimination (65%), protection against harassment (63%), and access to social security (59%). 


20. A whopping 96% of freelancers believe the market has changed in the past 3 years. 

The freelance market is 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: 64% of workers say that professionals at the top of their industry are increasingly choosing to work independently. 


21. 79% of US workers 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. At 77%, the second most common reason why people 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. 


Why Do Freelancers Freelance

22. 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.


23. 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 so via organizations, clubs, and unions. 

(Slash Workers) 

How Do Freelancers Find Work

How Is COVID-19 Impacting the Freelance Workforce?

24. Around 31.63% of freelancers believe the demand for freelance work has greatly decreased since COVID-19.

There is not a single business that hasn’t been 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.


Shift in Demand for Freelance Services During COVID-19

25. 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. 


Shift in Freelancers' Hourly Rates During COVID-19

26. 56% of companies will allow global remote work by the end of 2021. 

It would be naive to believe that the revenues of any business would remain the same after COVID-19. Freelancing statistics show that businesses will already have adapted to working with remote teams, and by the end of 2021, more than 50% of all businesses will be relying on remote workers only. What is more, 16% of companies will be depending on staff that is entirely composed of global remote workers. Freelance predictions also show that permanent remote work will make up 34.4% of companies’ workforces.

(Website Planet) 

27. 53% of freelancers are optimistic that post-pandemic demand will grow. 

Optimism about the future of freelancing 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.


Predictions of the Future of Freelancing Post-COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

How many freelancers are there in the US?

A recent survey by the Freelancers Union and Upwork shows that approximately 35% of the US 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. Freelance statistics for 2020 point to an 8% increase in the number of full-time freelancers.

How big is the freelance industry?

The current size of the freelance industry exceeds $1.5 trillion, and this is only based on the American and Canadian markets that account for over 50% of the global distribution of freelancers. As one of the biggest markets globally for both clients and freelancers, the United States is a pioneer when it comes to this way of working. 

How many Millennials are freelancers?

Close to one-half of Millennials are already freelancing, according to reports from the Freelancers Union and Upwork. The same reports also reveal 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. 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.

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. 

How many freelancers are on UpWork?

With 17 million registered users, 5 million of whom are clients looking for freelancers and 12 million are freelancers, UpWork is the second-largest freelance platform. ranks first, while Fiverr is in third place.

Final Remarks

Freelancing is not just about work, it’s a way of life that’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, even in times of crisis.

Sources: Payoneer, Upwork, Medium, Upwork, Website Planet, CNBC, Freelancer Map, Statista, Statista, Freelancing Hacks, Slash Workers, Manpower Group, Small Biz Trends, CNBC, Upwork, Statista, Fundera, Payoneer