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Freelancing in America: 2018

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“Freelancing in America” is the most comprehensive study of the independent workforce. Commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union, this study surveyed more than 6,000 U.S. workers. In its fifth annual year, findings show Americans are spending more than 1 billion hours per week freelancing. Beyond quantifying the amount of freelancing happening, new insights delve into why people are increasingly choosing to work this way.

Published in: Recruiting & HR

Freelancing in America: 2018

  1. 1. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancing in America: 2018 COMMISIONED BY UPWORK AND FREELANCERS UNION October 2018
  2. 2. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Study Objectives 2 Upwork and Freelancers Union commissioned Edelman Intelligence, an independent research firm, to conduct their fifth annual study of the U.S. freelance workforce with these objectives: 1. Quantify freelancing: Size the workforce and trends since 2014 2. Assess training: Workforce readiness in the face of rapid change 3. Understand the freelancing lifestyle: Drivers and barriers 4. Examine political tendencies of freelancers This deck is organized in sections to detail results on each objective.
  3. 3. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Methodology • An online survey of 6,001 U.S. adults who have done paid work in the past 12 months • Data collected June 21, 2018 – July 12, 2018 by independent research firm Edelman Intelligence • This is the fifth year the survey has been conducted, allowing for trend data. Data collected in the summers of 2014-2017 is referenced throughout the analysis and indicates the percentage point change over the past four years. • Percentage point differences between waves are noted where applicable and noteworthy in the report. • Results were weighted to ensure demographic representation in line with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017 Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey • Margin of error: Overall: ±1.2% at the 95% level of confidence. Freelancers: ±2.1%, Full-time Freelancers: ±4.0%, Full-time Non-freelancers: ±1.9%. • Audiences surveyed: U.S. Workers Overall U.S. adults 18+ who have earned income from work within the past 12 months, including both freelancers and non-freelancers Freelancers Individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work, within the past 12 months Non-freelancers Individuals who earned income through work but have not engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work, within the past 12 months.N=6,001 N=2100 N=3901 3
  4. 4. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Quantifying freelancing: Growth over time More than 1 in 3 Americans freelanced this year. Over the last five years, people are increasingly making the choice to freelance, and the freelance workforce has grown by 3.7 million to 56.7 million Americans freelancing today. This is driven especially by growth among younger generations and full-time freelancers (as opposed to part- time freelancers). Key Findings Americans are spending more than 1 billion hours per week freelancing, an increase of 72 million hours/week since 2015.
  5. 5. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Training: Workforce readiness in the face of rapid change Freelancers are more likely to find skill-related training valuable to the work they do now rather than a college education. Freelancers are more proactively updating their skills to remain marketable as the job market evolves compared to non-freelancers – 70% of full- time freelancers participated in skill training in the past six months, compared to 49% of full-time non-freelancers. Specifically, freelancers are seeking training to enhance their skills in areas that affect freelancers the most: technology, networking, and business management. Cost is a barrier for many (53%) freelancers to accessing training, particularly because freelancers are more likely than non-freelancers to pay for training themselves. Key Findings
  6. 6. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Understanding the freelancing lifestyle: Drivers and barriers Both freelancers and non- freelancers prioritize achieving the lifestyle that they want, but freelancers are more likely to get it. Freelancers feel anxious about all they have to manage, but they also have a better work/life balance with more control over one's own destiny and schedule, resulting in less stress and better health. Freelancing also provides opportunities to those who otherwise might not be able to work. 42% of freelancers agree that freelancing gives them the flexibility they need because they are unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances (health issues, childcare needs, etc.) 61% of full-time freelancers would consider moving to a different city for a tax break of less than $5,000. Key Findings
  7. 7. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Political tendencies of freelancers In this election season, freelancers are key – they are 19 points more politically active than non-freelancers. To win freelancer voters, candidates should focus on making healthcare more affordable and available, as well as supporting retirement savings and higher pay. Freelancers are more likely to vote for candidates who support their interests. In fact, having their issues addressed by their representatives is more important to freelancers than party loyalty. More than 72% said they’d be willing to cross party lines to support candidates that support freelancer interests. Key Findings
  8. 8. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Looking ahead More than 3 in 4 freelancers report that technology has made it easier to find freelance work. • 64% of freelancers found work online in this year’s study, a 22-point increase since 2014. • The percentage of work they obtained online increased for 67% of freelancers this year. 51% of freelancers say no amount of money would get them to take a traditional job. Freelancers are optimistic about the future of freelancing – nearly 9 in 10 see the industry’s best days ahead. Key Findings
  9. 9. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 State of the Freelance Workforce & Changes in the Last 5 Years
  10. 10. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancing in review: 5-year scorecard Q2: What is your current age? Q31: Which of the following best describes your current freelance work? Q47: How long ago did you start freelancing? Q48: Which is closer to the reason you originally started freelancing? 10 Q60: Have you ever obtained a freelance project online? Q72: Which of the following best describes your annual personal income? (Personal, not household income) 28% 17%2014 2018 43 % 32 % 2014 2018 In the last 5 years, the freelance workforce has grown by choice… 3.7 million more freelancers vs. 2014 56.7 Million Americans freelanced in 2018 (35% of U.S. workers) % of freelancers who are… +11 points +11 points Full-Time Age 18-34 Freelancing has contributed to the economy… +15 points 84% 69% 16% 31% 2014 2018 $75K+ <$75K Personal income among freelancers Technology is enabling finding work… 53% 61% 2014 2018 % started freelancing by choice (vs necessity) +8 points 70% 74% 2014 2018 2018 64% 2014 42% % obtained project online +22 points % started freelancing in the past five years +4 points
  11. 11. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 More than 1 in 3 (35%) American workers freelanced this year, totaling 56.7M freelancers, nearly 4M more than in 2014 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 53M 53.7M 55M 56.7M57.3M Number of American workers who freelance +3.7 million since 2014 11
  12. 12. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Americans spend more than 1 billion hours per week on freelance work, up substantially since 2015 +72M more hours per week freelancing compared to 2015 Q25:How many hours in a typical week do you spend on freelance work? Note: Total hours are calculated by multiplying the average weekly hours spent on freelancing with the total number of freelancers for each respective year. Q25 was not asked in 2014 version of FIA survey and first introduced in 2015. 12 How many hours in a typical week do you spend on freelance work? [Showing total hours spent by freelancers on weekly basis] 2015 2018 998 million 1.07 billion
  13. 13. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 47% 39% 53% 61% 2014 2018 More people are choosing to freelance Q36: Which is closer to how you view freelancing? Options: A temporary way to make money; A long-term career choice Q48: Which is closer to the reason you originally started freelancing? Options: Choice; Necessity +8 points since 2014 Which is closer to the reason you originally started freelancing? [Freelancers] NECESSITY CHOICE CHOICE 65% 52% 35% 48% 2014 2018 +13 points since 2014 Which is closer to how you view freelancing? [Freelancers] TEMPORARY LONG-TERM NECESSITY CHOICE TEMPORARY LONG-TERM 70% of full-time freelancers see it as long-term 13
  14. 14. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Government data is incomplete: the BLS CWS’s 1-week snapshot misses the 42% who freelance less than weekly Q24_18: Which of the following better describes your freelance work? Q24: How often do you engage in freelancing? 50% 50% CONSISTENT INTERMITTENT/ IRREGULAR Which of the following better describes your freelance work? [Freelancers] 14 28% 30% 11% 13% 6% 5% 3% 4% Daily Weekly Bi-weekly Monthly Every other month 3-4 times a year 1-2 times a year Once a year or less How often do you engage in freelancing? [Freelancers] 42% freelance less than weekly (+13 points from 2017)
  15. 15. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Full-time freelancers increased 11 points since 2014 -9 points Less part-time freelancers compared to 2014 2018: 50% 2014: 59% +11 points More full-time freelancers compared to 2014 2018: 28% 2014: 17% +1 point More full-time employees who earn extra income from freelance work compared to 2014 2018: 20% 2014: 19% Q31:Which of the following best describes your current freelance work? Options: Full-time freelancer, part-time freelancer, Full-time employee who earns extra income from freelance work 15
  16. 16. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 38% 34% 31% 32% 42% 35% 29% 30% 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Proportion of workers in each age group who freelance 2014 2018 +4 points since 2014 Younger generations especially are freelancing Q2: What is your current age? 16 18 – 21: 45% 22 – 34: 42%
  17. 17. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 12% 15% 20% 16% 11% 13% 7% 6% Less than 6 months ago 6 months – 1 year ago 1 – 2 years ago 2 – 3 years ago 3 – 4 years ago 5 – 10 years ago 10 – 20 years ago More than 20 years ago How long ago did you start freelancing? [Freelancers] Nearly 3 in 4 freelancers started within the last five years 74%of freelancers started freelancing within the last 5 years (+4 points from 2014) Q47: How long ago did you start freelancing? 17
  18. 18. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 3% 2% 5% 5% 4% 5% 7% 10% 12% 10% 9% 12% 15% 19% 18% 83% 75% 69% 64% 69% 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Less than $75,000 $75,000 - $99,999 $100,000-$149,999 $150,000 or more 18Q72: Which of the following best describes your annual personal income? (Personal, not household income) Annual personal income [Freelancers] +15 points since 2014 The number of high-earning freelancers has grown
  19. 19. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Training
  20. 20. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 “I am updating my skills to ensure I’m marketable as the job market evolves” [Strongly/somewhat agree] 53% Full-time non-freelancers 66% Full-time freelancers Freelancers proactively update skills to remain marketable Q102: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? [Statement: I am updating my skills to ensure I’m marketable as the job market evolves] Q110:To what extent would you say each of the following resources are valuable in supporting your work? [Somewhat/Very Valuable shown] 20 81% of freelancers find skill-related education or training valuable
  21. 21. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 7 in 10 full-time freelancers updated their skills in the last six months, far exceeding full-time employees Q21_3: When was the last time you participated in any skill-related education or training? Q29e: Compared to when you previously worked for an employer, how often do you currently partake in skill-related education or training? Options: I participate in [more, same amount, less] education or training than when I had an employer 10% 14% 16% 26%5% 11% 19% 22%22% 17% 29% 10% Full-time Freelancers Full-time Non-freelancers Within the last week Within the last month Within the last 6 months Within the last year Over a year ago Never When was the last time you participated in any skill-related education or training? [Full-time freelancers and non-freelancers] 70% participated in the last 6 months (vs 64% in 2017) 49% participated in in the last 6 months (vs 32% in 2017) 21 45% of full-time freelancers who left a traditional job participate in MORE training and education than when they had an employer Full-time Freelancers +21points
  22. 22. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 22Q21_68: Where have you received skill-related education or training? 11% 17% 23% 44% 56% 23% 28% 33% 37% 43% Online forums and discussion boards Books/websites on subjects that pertain to my work Video or webinar tutorials (on YouTube or elsewhere) In-person trainings, workshops, and instructional courses On-the-job training Freelancer Non-freelancer Where have you received skill-related education or training? [Freelancers and non-freelancers] Freelancers seek out their own training, while non-freelancers primarily receive on-the-job training -13pts -7pts +10pts +11pts +12pts
  23. 23. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 For freelancers, training's value outweighs college’s *Among those who graduated from college Q21_12: How useful was the skill-related education or training you have received to the work you do now? Q21_7: Thinking back, how useful was the education you got in college to the work you do now? 53% 43% 40% 36% Skill related education/ training* College* Somewhat useful Very useful How useful was this type of education to the work you do now? [Freelancers with at least a 4-year college degree] 23 93% 79%
  24. 24. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Cost of training is a barrier for many freelancers, who are more likely having to pay for it themselves Does cost get in the way of getting the skill-related education or training you want or need? [Freelancers] Q21_10: Does cost get in the way of getting the skill-related education or training you want or need? [Yes/No] Q21_11a: Who paid for the most recent skill-related education or training you had? 53%of freelancers say YES (vs. 33% of non-freelancers) I paid for the education or training (vs 15% of non-freelancers) My employer or client (vs. 53% of non-freelancers) Education or training was offered for free (vs. 19% of non-freelancers) Who paid for most recent skill related education or training? [All respondents, freelancer numbers shown] My professional association, union, or other org (vs. 5% of non-freelancers) 28% 27% 21% 8% 24 63% of full-time freelancers say cost gets in way Freelancers Non-freelancers
  25. 25. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers are especially looking to expand their marketable skills and professional network Q21_5: Why do you participate in skill-related education or training? 22% 24% 21% 37% 31% 32% 34% 38% To learn about new work opportunities To expand my professional network To get more work by learning marketable skills To keep up with changing technologies Freelancers Non-freelancers Why do you participate in skill-related education or training? [Freelances and non-freelancers] 25
  26. 26. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Specifically, freelancers are looking for training to beef up their skills in technology, networking, and business management Q21_13. On which topics would you like additional education or training to improve your skills and make you more competitive? Please select all that apply. 33% 29% 27% 26% 24% Computer skills Networking skills Freelance business skills (i.e., financials, taxes, insurance, etc.) Marketing How to find work Freelancers On which topics would you like additional education or training to improve your skills and make you more competitive? [Freelancers] 26
  27. 27. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 44% 36% 31% Many freelancers would benefit from education on essential freelance business skills Asked of freelancers Q21_14: To what extent would you agree with the following statements? [Strongly/Somewhat disagree shown] “I have a good contract I use for my freelance work” “I know how to effectively market my skills” Do not agree Do not agree Do not agree “I am comfortable negotiating with clients” 27 29% “I have a good sense of rates in my industry and how much to charge for my work” Do not agree
  28. 28. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Work & Life
  29. 29. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Both freelancers and non-freelancers prioritize achieving the lifestyle that they want; freelancers are the ones who get it Q29g: If forced to choose, which of the following would take priority for you? Living the lifestyle I want, Maximizing my earnings potential Q29f: In general, does your work allow you to live the lifestyle you want? (i.e., gives you the time you want to spend on your priorities and the financial means to do so) [Yes/No] 61% LIFESTYLE 39% EARNINGS If forced to choose, which of the following would take priority for you? [Freelancers and non-freelancers] 63% 84% In general, does your work allow you to live the lifestyle you want? [Full-time freelancers and non-freelancers] 72% for all freelancers Full-time Freelancers Full-time Non-freelancers YES YES Same priority (lifestyle) for both groups 29
  30. 30. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 81% 80% 78% 77% 77% 76% 75% 66% 73% 65% 61% 67% 76% 66% To be my own boss To have flexibility in my schedule (i.e. what days or times I work) To work from the location of my choosing To have independence from things such as office dynamics To have a schedule that enables me to pursue my personal passions To earn extra money To be able to choose my own projects Full-time Freelancer Part-time Freelancer The top reasons for freelancing are control over one's own destiny, flexibility and independence Top reasons for freelancing [Full-time freelancers and part-time freelancers; showing % who select each as a major reason of 4-5 on a 5-point scale] Q35b. Please indicate the degree to which each of the following is a reason why you freelance? [Scale: 1- Not at all a reason – 5- A major reason] Options: Out of financial necessity; To earn extra money; To be in control of my own financial future; To be able to choose my own projects; To have flexibility in my schedule (i.e. what days or times I work); To be able to spend more time with friends, family, and my personal life; So that I get access to global opportunities, rather than be limited by location; To expand my professional network; To gain additional skills or experience; To have independence from things such as office dynamics; To be able to pursue work I am passionate about or find meaningful; So that I can progress in my career at my own pace; Because a traditional salaried job is unavailable or hard to find; It allows me to keep working after retirement to earn additional income; To have a schedule that allows me to provide care for a family member; To be my own boss; To work from the location of my choosing; To have a schedule that enables me to pursue my personal passions; To be able to spend more time with family 30
  31. 31. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Full-time freelancers note that some anxiety is the flipside of freelancing's lifestyle benefits Q21_8: Please indicate how much you agree with each of the following statements on freelancing [Strongly/Somewhat agree shown]. feel anxious about all that they have to manage (i.e., financials, taxes, insurance, etc.) as a freelancer feel anxious because of the unpredictable nature of my work as a freelancer 63% 63% Full-time freelancers report… [Strongly/somewhat agree] 31 Better work/life balance “Freelancing has given me more time for the things and people I care about” “I feel more stimulated by the freelance work that I do, compared to the work I would do in a traditional job” 77% 76% Better health “Working as a freelancer has been less stressful than working in a traditional job” “My general health has improved since I started freelancing” “My sleep has improved since I started freelancing” 70% 64% 64% say freelancing makes them feel isolated, working on their own56%
  32. 32. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Full-time freelancers see much greater flexibility in their day-to-day work than full-time non-freelancers Q23_18: In your opinion, how well do each of the following characteristics apply to your work? Scale: Applies completely, applies somewhat, applies a little, does not apply at all 35% 38% 55% 57% 83% 84% 83% 81% How well do each of the following characteristics apply to your work? [Completely/somewhat applies] +48pts +28pts+46pts +24pts Full-time freelancers Full-time non-freelancers Gives me flexibility to work where I want Gives me flexibility to work when I want Gives me autonomy and freedom Provides the opportunity to pursue work I am passionate about or find meaningful 32
  33. 33. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 53% 62% 67% 69% 72% 77% 81% 77% Provides opportunity for upward mobility Provides pay appropriate for my skill-level Gives me opportunities to learn new things (challenging) Offers a long-term career path Full-time Non- freelancer Full-time Freelancer Freelancers see greater opportunity to advance their careers than traditional employees +14pts+15pts +8pts +19pts How well do each of the following characteristics apply to your work? [Completely/somewhat applies] 33 Q23_18: In your opinion, how well do each of the following characteristics apply to your work? Scale: Applies completely, applies somewhat, applies a little, does not apply at all
  34. 34. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 And, freelancing provides opportunities to those who otherwise might not be able to work 73% 67% "Freelancing provides an alternative that can allow one to support a family without holding a traditional job" "Freelancing is a good way for me to transition into retirement" % Completely/somewhat agree [Full-time freelancers] Q44_2: Please indicate your agreement with the following statements about freelancing. Statement: Because of personal circumstances (health issues, childcare needs, etc.) I am not able to work for a traditional employer on an ongoing basis, but freelancing gives me the flexibility I need 34 42% of freelancers agree that freelancing gives them the flexibility they need because they are unable to work for a traditional employer because of personal circumstances (health issues, childcare needs, etc.) Among Baby Boomer freelancers….
  35. 35. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancing especially provides opportunities to those with health and family issues who are otherwise unable to work 29% 25% 22% 24% Health Benefits of freelancing Family related Other mentions Why does an ongoing traditional employee role not work for you? (coded open-ended responses) [Freelancers who agree, not able to work for traditional employer] Q44_3: Please describe the personal circumstances you face, why you are unable to work for a traditional employer on an ongoing basis, and how freelancing gives you the flexibility you need (Open End) (Asked just of those who agree: Because of personal circumstances (health issues, childcare needs, etc.) I am not able to work for a traditional employer on an ongoing basis, but freelancing gives me the flexibility I need) 35 Health issues (Non Specific) 10% Anxiety/depression/mental illness 6% Back problems/back pain 4% Disability/I have a disability 3% Pain/body pain (Non Specific) 2% Stress/less stress freelancing 2% Accident/injury 2% Lack of strength/can’t be on feet for long periods of time, Fatigue/tired easily, Diabetes, Surgery, Arthritis, Breathing problems/asthma/COPD, Heart issues, Blood pressure, Autoimmune disease 1% each Flexibility/making my own hours 16% Money/earn extra money 7% Freedom/more freedom 4% Child care/have kids/cost of daycare 10% Family obligations/my family (Non Specific) 5% Illness of a family member 3% Taking care of a parent 2% Disability of a family member or child 2% Specific responses 25-point gender gap: Men 12%, Women 37%
  36. 36. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers in their own words…. “I have children and my wife works full-time. This gives me the freedom to take care of my children and avoid full-time day care” – Male, 51 “I had cancer 10 years ago which left me with [intestinal] issues that can flare up. I am able to pick work that can be rescheduled if necessary- whether it be time or day. With an employer i would end up being terminated for too many call offs.” – Female, 67 “My husband and I have been taking care of his elderly parents. He is also disabled and my health issues also prevent me from working full time. I have flexibility in this way of life.” – Female, 44 “I have severe mental health issues that cause me to be very anxious around people, simple situations can overwhelm me that cause panic attacks …due to the various issues that they cause I can not manage a 9-5 job that normal people can.” – Male, 20 Please describe the personal circumstances you face, why you are unable to work for a traditional employer on an ongoing basis, and how freelancing gives you the flexibility you need (open-ended) [Freelancers] “My youngest son was born with a rare medical condition that requires hours of doctor's appointments, surgeries, recoveries, therapies. I need to be able to be home with him to manage that. Freelancing allows me to work 10 minutes here and there around all of this, or to take certain times off if needed.” – Female, 31 36 Q44_3: Please describe the personal circumstances you face, why you are unable to work for a traditional employer on an ongoing basis, and how freelancing gives you the flexibility you need (Open End) (Asked just of those who agree: Because of personal circumstances (health issues, childcare needs, etc.) I am not able to work for a traditional employer on an ongoing basis, but freelancing gives me the flexibility I need)
  37. 37. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers say helping them helps our economy and the middle class Q78: Which is closer to your view of the impact freelancers have on our economy? Q44_1: Please indicate your agreement with the following statements about freelancing. Statement: A healthy freelance economy boosts America’s middle class of freelancers believe more freelancing opportunities is a positive step for the economy 81% 95% of Baby Boomer freelancers Increased opportunities for freelancers are a positive step for our economy Increased use of freelancers is harmful to our economy Which is closer to your view of the impact freelancers have on our economy? [Freelancers] 37 A healthy freelance economy boosts America’s middle class [Freelancers] 62% Strongly Agree/ Somewhat Agree 88% among undecided freelancers who are likely to vote
  38. 38. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 If more people freelance and have location flexibility, positive geographic and economic impacts are likely to result 85% total likely Q100: If more people started freelancing, how likely are each of the following to happen? 84% total likely “People will move to areas that cater to their lifestyles rather than being stuck in a location where their traditional employer is” “People will live in places of their choice, rather than urban job centers, distributing economic opportunity more broadly” If more people started freelancing, how likely are each of the following to happen? [Freelancers] Very likelySomewhat likely 38
  39. 39. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 In fact, many full-time freelancers would consider moving for a tax credit $1 - $2,499 $2,500 - $4,999 $5,000 - $9,999 $10,000 - $19,999 $20,000 or more 61% of full-time freelancers considering moving to a different city would for a tax break of less than $5,000 Q44_4: Please indicate your agreement with these additional statements about freelancing. Statement: I would consider moving to a city that offered a significant tax break for freelancers. Q50a_18: You said that you would consider moving to a city that offered a significant tax break for freelancers. What is the minimum size tax credit that would lead you to consider moving to a different city? What is the minimum tax credit that would lead you to consider moving to a different city? [Full-time freelancers who would consider moving for a tax break] 39 “I would consider moving to a city that offered a significant tax break for freelancers” [Full-time freelancers, strongly/somewhat agree] 64% 41% 20% 17% 9% 12%
  40. 40. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Politics
  41. 41. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 34% 53% Non-freelancers Freelancers 60% 65% Millennial Freelancers Full-time Freelancers Freelancers are a valuable constituency in the election since they are significantly more politically active than traditional employees Q70_3: How politically active are you? (e.g., volunteering for a candidate/political organization, attending rallies, engaging in politically-related social media activity, etc.)? Scale: Very active, somewhat active, not very active, not active at all % Who are politically active [Very/somewhat active] +19 points freelancers are more active 41
  42. 42. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 But, freelancers today don't feel well-represented by government leaders Q73_1: How much discussion, if any, have you heard about freelancing by government leaders? Q70_6a: How well represented are freelancers by government leaders? Q102: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Statement: Policymakers should work to better understand the freelance workforce and its economic impact. [Strongly/Somewhat agree shown] 65% of freelancers have heard little to no discussion about freelancing by government leaders 42 16% 19% 31% 34% A lot Some Not very much None 65% feel that freelancers are not well represented by government leaders [Not very well/not well at all] 65% of freelancers agree “policymakers should work to better understand the freelance workforce and its economic impact”
  43. 43. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Democrats have a leg up in the 2018 elections when it comes to freelancer votes Q70_4: How likely are you to vote in the election in November for Congress and other offices? Scale: Very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, not likely at all Q70_5: If the 2018 general election for U.S. Congress were held today, for which party’s candidate would you prefer to vote? Options: Democratic, Republican, Don’t Know 48% 38% 14% Democratic Republican Don't Know If the 2018 general election for U.S. Congress were held today, for which party’s candidate would you prefer to vote? [Freelancers who are likely to vote] 43 80% of freelancers are likely to vote % Likely to vote in the November elections for Congress and other offices [Freelancers; very/somewhat likely]
  44. 44. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Q74: If a candidate for political office supported your interests as a freelancer, how would that impact your vote? Would it make you: Much more likely, somewhat more likely, somewhat less likely, much less likely, it would make no difference. 76% of freelancers are more likely to vote for a candidate that supports their interests as a freelancer Freelancers are much more likely to vote for candidates that support their interests as freelancers 44 78%84% Members of both parties are more likely to vote for a candidate that supports their freelancer interests (True for 83% of full-time freelancers)
  45. 45. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 70% Q103. If a candidate for political office indicated they supported freelancer interests, how open would you be to crossing party lines to support them? Scale: Very open, somewhat open, not very open, not at all open 72% of freelancers are open to crossing party lines to support candidates that support freelancer interests Further, 7 in 10 freelancers are willing to cross party lines to support candidates that address freelancer interests 45 77% Members of both parties are willing to switch for a candidate who stands up for freelancers (True for 81% of full-time freelancers)
  46. 46. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 70% 64% All workers see freelancing as a good option for those losing jobs to automation and believe policymakers should make it easier to freelance Q102: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? [Strongly/Somewhat agree shown] “Freelancing can be a good option for people who lose their jobs due to automation” “Policymakers should provide more retraining and reskilling resources for people who lose their jobs due to automation so they can become freelancers” “Policymakers should make it easier to work as a freelancer” 46 62% Freelancers agree Freelancers agree Freelancers agree 64% of U.S. workers agree 54% of U.S. workers agree 60% of U.S. workers agree
  47. 47. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 47 How would you rank each of the following issues in terms of your level of concern? [Showing issue selected as one of their top 3 concerns] U.S. workers share similar concerns regardless of whether they freelance or not Freelancers Non- Freelancers Unpredictable income Being able to put enough money into savings Access to affordable healthcare Debt Saving for retirement 4 of the top 5 issues for freelancers and non-freelancers are the same, but differ on only 1 of their top 5 issues… Q78_1: How would you rank each of the following issues in terms of your level of concern? [Most concerning + Second most concerning] Options: Unpredictable income; Being paid a fair rate; Non-payment or late payment for work; Being able to put enough money into savings; Saving for Retirement; Access to affordable healthcare; High taxation rates; Difficulty finding work; Having opportunities for career growth; Debt; Forgoing the purchase of things I need; Competition from other freelancers; Competition from large businesses; Finding information about benefit options; Access to loans; Complying with (or knowing) legal regulations Being paid a fair rate
  48. 48. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 56% 48% 42% 42% 33% Worries about income predictability Uncertainty that you could “make it” on your own Desire to keep company sponsored benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, and life insurance Concern that you would be able to find enough work to support yourself Difficulty finding freelance work The top factor holding moonlighters back from freelancing full-time is income unpredictability What’s holding you back from quitting your primary job to work independently? [Freelancers who want to move to full-time] Q40_1: What is holding you back from quitting your primary job to work independently? Options: Desire to keep company sponsored benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, and life insurance; Worries about income predictability; Concern that you would face higher taxes; Difficulty finding freelance work; Uncertainty about how to get started; Concern that you would be able to find enough work to support yourself; Uncertainty that you could “make it” on your own; Worry about losing professional contacts; Pressure to have a “traditional” job; Fear of feeling isolated working by yourself; Feeling overwhelmed about managing your own business (i.e. legal, accounting, marketing, etc.); Other (Specify); None of the above 48
  49. 49. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 22% 19% 19% 17% 17% 16% 15% 15% 10% 9% Access to affordable healthcare Unpredictable income Saving for Retirement Being paid a fair rate Debt High taxation rates Difficulty finding work Being able to put enough money into savings Non-payment or late payment for work Having opportunities for career growth For freelancers, affordable healthcare is the top concern Issues freelancers are concerned about [Freelancers; showing % among top 2 most concerning] 49 Q78_1: How would you rank each of the following issues in terms of your level of concern? [Most concerning + Second most concerning] Options: Unpredictable income; Being paid a fair rate; Non-payment or late payment for work; Being able to put enough money into savings; Saving for Retirement; Access to affordable healthcare; High taxation rates; Difficulty finding work; Having opportunities for career growth; Debt; Forgoing the purchase of things I need; Competition from other freelancers; Competition from large businesses; Finding information about benefit options; Access to loans; Complying with (or knowing) legal regulations
  50. 50. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Full-time freelancers are most likely to get health insurance through a self-purchased plan Q78_5: Do you currently have health insurance? [Yes/No] Q78_6. How do you get your health insurance? Q78_7: Do you currently pay more or less in health insurance premium than you did last year? 2% 7% 13% 26% 18% 17% 18% 2% 5% 14% 14% 16% 21% 28% Other Through my parents’ plan Through my spouse’s plan Through my employer’s plan Medicare Medicaid Through a plan that I purchase myself Full-time Freelancers Freelancers Source of health insurance [Freelancers and full-time freelancers] 50 52% of full-time freelancers (and 46% of freelancers overall) that purchased their own plan reported paying more in health insurance premiums than last year. 84% of full-time freelancers indicate they currently have health insurance
  51. 51. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 2 in 3 freelancers would prefer taking home more pay and purchasing benefits on their own Q78_9: When it comes to benefits, which of the following options would you prefer? Options: Taking home more pay and purchasing benefits on your own, Taking home less pay and receiving a benefits package from your employer or clients 51 34% When it comes to benefits, which of the following options would you prefer? [Freelancers] 66% Taking home more pay and purchasing benefits on your own Taking home less pay and receiving a benefits package from your employer or clients 80% among full- time freelancers
  52. 52. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 To win freelancer votes, politicians should focus on healthcare, retirement and increasing pay more Q107: What factors should politicians most focus on to support freelancer interests? [Forced 3 choices out of a list of 11]. Slide shows only top 5 choices selected by freelancers within their top 3 factors. 1 2 3 What factors should politicians most focus on to support freelancer interests? [Freelancers; showing % who selected each among their top 3] 49% Make healthcare more affordable and available (by political affiliation: I – 54%, D – 50%, R – 45%) 34% Tax incentives to help freelancers save for retirement 31% Help people get paid more for the work they do 52 4 29% Better protections to ensure freelancers get paid 5 27% Tax process simplification/reform
  53. 53. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 44% 41% 37% 32% 33% 27% 29% 31% 34% 33% "We must provide better access to affordable health care for all workers" "We must fix education in America to prepare for the future job market" "Freelancers should have the same benefits and supports as traditional employees" "Freelancers need stronger protections to ensure that clients pay" "Freelancers need better tax incentives to help them save" Much more likely to vote for candidate Somewhat more likely to vote for candidate Freelancers are more likely to support candidates addressing healthcare, as well as benefits, protections, and education If a candidate for political office publicly made the following statements, how would it impact your vote? [Freelancers] Q70_6: If a candidate for political office publicly made the following statements, how would it impact your vote? Scale: Much more likely to vote, somewhat more likely to vote, somewhat less likely to vote, much less likely to vote, it would make no difference This is the highest among all responses for Democrat freelancers (78% vs. 71% Republican, 67% Independent) 53
  54. 54. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 LOOKING AHEAD
  55. 55. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 42% 59% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 2014 2018 How much has the freelance job market today changed compared to 3 years ago? [% freelancers who indicated there has been large change; 6-9 on 9-point scale] Freelancers are seeing more change than ever Q52: How much has the freelance job market today changed compared to 3 years ago? [Scale: 1- Has not changed at all – 9-Completely changed] Note: % who indicated there has been change are those who rated 6-9 on the scale Proportion is even higher among full-time freelancers (67%) +17 points since 2014 55
  56. 56. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Nearly 9 out of 10 freelancers are optimistic about freelancing's future Best days are ahead 77% Best days are ahead 87% 23% 13% Q57. How do you see the future of freelancing in general? Options: Best days are ahead, Best days are behind In 2014, question was asked: How do you see the future of the freelancing job market? 2018 2014 How do you see the future of freelancing in general? [Freelancers] +10points since 2014 56
  57. 57. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 65% 76% There is greater demand for freelancers Technology has made it easier to find freelance work It's becoming easier to find freelance work Q53: What do you think is different about the freelance job market today compared to 3 years ago? Options: Technology has made it easier to find freelance work, There is greater demand for freelancers, There are more organizations (coworking, networking groups, jobs boards, etc.) to support freelancers, Perceptions of freelancing as a career are becoming more positive, Freelancing is becoming the norm in my industry, Professionals who are the top in their industry are increasingly choosing to work independently, Professionals who are the top in their industry are earning more by working independently than they would within a corporation [Strongly/somewhat agree] [Strongly/somewhat agree] [Among freelancers who indicated there had been change] [Among freelancers who indicated there had been change] 57
  58. 58. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 A mix of sources provides access to freelance work today, led by personal connections 4% 14% 14% 14% 16% 17% 23% 23% 27% 36% 38% 40% 46% Other Local newspaper Sharing economy websites or apps Employment agency / staffing firm Specialized freelance websites Previous employer (full-time) General freelance websites Online job boards Online ads/classifieds (such as Craigslist) Professional contacts Previous client (freelance) Social media Friends and family Where do you typically go to find freelance work? [Freelancers] Q59: Where do you typically go to find freelance work? 58
  59. 59. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 4% 29% 35% 32% Increased a lot Increased somewhat Stayed about the same Decreased somewhat/a lot Freelancers are finding more work online Q60: Have you ever obtained a freelance project online? [Yes/No] Q61_1: How has the percentage of your freelancing work obtained online (websites, apps, etc.), as compared to offline, changed in the past year? 59 2014: 42% 2018: 64% +22 points more than 2014 Proportion of freelancers who have found work online Work obtained online increased for 67% of freelancers in the past year How has the percentage of your freelancing work obtained online (websites, apps, etc.), as compared to offline, changed in the past year? [Freelancers]
  60. 60. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 As technology increases opportunities to freelance, the majority of people are receptive to the idea of freelancing Would you be willing to do additional work outside of your primary job(s) if it was available and enabled you to make more money? [Non-freelancers] Q97: In the future, do you think technology innovations will… Q21: Would you be willing to do additional work outside of your primary job(s) if it was available and enabled you to make more money? [Yes/No] 82%of non-freelancers would be willing to do additional work 60 In the future technology innovations will… [Freelancers] Increase your opportunities to freelance 88% Reduce your opportunities to freelance 12%
  61. 61. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 After leaving your job with an employer, how long did it take you to earn more as a freelancer than you did with an employer? [Freelancers who make more after quitting a job in order to freelance] 38% 23% 16% 12% 9% The majority of those who left a job in order to freelance say they make more now than they did with an employer…and it didn’t take them long to get there Q29b: As a freelancer now, do you earn more or less than when you had an employer? Options: More, less, the same. Q29c: After leaving your job with an employer, how long did it take you to earn more as a freelancer than you did with an employer?. 60% 73% of full-time freelancers earn more As a freelancer now, do you earn more or less than when you had an employer? [Freelancers who quit a job in order to freelance] Immediately Less than 6 Months 6 months – 1 Year 1-2 Years Over 2 Years 77% of freelancers earned more in less than a yearEARN MORE 61
  62. 62. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Q11: Do you have an employer (i.e. a company that employs you)? [Yes/No] Q12: Do you have more than one employer, job, or contract project? [Yes/No] Q13: Do you do any work outside of your primary position to supplement your income or earn additional money? [Yes/No] Q37. Have you ever considered quitting your primary job in order to work completely independently? [Yes/No] Yes 37% No 63% 14.7 Million Moonlighters Workers with a primary employer who have done work outside of their main job to earn additional money within the past year If these Moonlighters quit their jobs, that would be nearly 5.4M New Independent Contractors More than five million individuals currently freelancing part- time are thinking about making the leap to independence Have you considered quitting your job in order to work completely independently? [Moonlighters] 62
  63. 63. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 23% 2% 5% 8% 6% 5% 51% $50,000-$99,999 $100K+ Half of freelancers say they wouldn’t take a traditional job, no matter how much they’re offered Q50e. How much more would a traditional job with an employer need to pay in order for you to definitely take that traditional job and stop freelancing? Options: None; $4,999 or less; $5,000-9,999; $10,000-19,999; $20,000-49,999; $50,000-99,999; $100,000+; There is no amount of money where I would definitely take a traditional job. There is no amount of money where I would definitely take a traditional job >$5,000 $5,000- $9,999 $10,000- $19,999 $20,000- $49,000 <$5,000 Proportion is even higher among freelancers who have freelanced for 5+ years (58%) How much more would a traditional job with an employer need to pay in order for you to definitely take that traditional job and stop freelancing? [Freelancers] 63
  64. 64. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Who freelancers are
  65. 65. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers skew more male than U.S. workers overall 60% 40% 53% 47% Male Female What gender do you more closely identify with? Freelancers U.S. workers overall Q1: What gender do you more closely identify with? [Male/Female] 65
  66. 66. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers skew younger; more than 2 in 5 freelancers are younger than 35 8% 35% 21% 17% 19% 6% 29% 21% 21% 23% 18-21 22-34 35-44 45-54 55+ What is your current age? Freelancers U.S. workers overall Q2: What is your current age? Average age: Freelancers 40 U.S. workers overall 42 66
  67. 67. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers mirror the education of the workforce overall 35% 27% 23% 16% 36% 27% 24% 14% HS grad or less Some college + Associate Degree Bachelor's degree Post grad What is the highest level of school you have completed? Freelancers U.S. Workers Overall Q68: What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received? 67
  68. 68. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers live all over the country, though a slightly higher proportion live in urban areas 17% 19% 38% 26% 18% 22% 37% 23% Northeast Midwest South West What region do you live in? Freelancers U.S. Workers Overall 38% 44% 19% 31% 48% 20% Urban Suburban Rural What type of area do you currently live in? Freelancers U.S. Workers Overall 45% of Full-Time Freelancers live in urban areas Q70: What state do you live in? Note: Answers recoded into regions Q71: What type of area do you currently live in? Options: Urban, Suburban, Rural 68
  69. 69. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 Freelancers are slightly more diverse than the general population of U.S. workers 62% 17% 13% 5% 2% 67% 15% 11% 5% 3% White Hispanic or Latino African or African descent Asian-American/ Asian All others Which of the following best describes your ethnicity, racial background or heritage? Freelancers U.S. Workers Overall Q3A_Which of the following best describes your ethnicity, racial background or heritage? 69
  70. 70. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 The freelance workforce: 5 freelancer segments 31% 17.6 M 26% 14.7 M 31% 17.6 M 6% 3.4 M 6% 3.4 M Independent Contractors Diversified Workers Moonlighters Temporary Workers Freelance Business Owners -9pts from 2014 +13pts from 2014 -4pts from 2014 +1pts from 2014 -1pts from 2014 70
  71. 71. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 5 Segments of Freelancers Starting with the general U.S. workforce, each respondent ran through a series of questions that carefully qualified their employment status and income in order to detect freelancing activity that might otherwise go unrecorded. The following definitions and examples explain 5 segments of freelancers captured: 1. Diversified Workers (31% / 17.6 million) – People with multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional employers and freelance work. For example, someone who works part-time at a start-up, manages an Airbnb and does freelance coding. 2. Independent Contractors (31% of the independent workforce / 17.6 million professionals) – These “traditional” freelancers don't have an employer and instead do freelance, temporary, or supplemental work on a project-to- project basis. 3. Moonlighters (26% / 14.7 million) – Professionals with a primary, traditional job who also moonlight doing freelance work. For example, a corporate-employed web developer who does projects for non-profits in the evening. 4. Freelance Business Owners (6% / 3.4 million) – These freelancers have one or more employees and 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. 5. Temporary Workers (6% / 3.4 million) – Individuals with a single employer, client, job, or contract project where their employment status is temporary. For example, a data entry worker employed by a staffing agency who is working on a three-month assignment. In order to qualify, freelancers had to have earned freelance income within the past 12 months. 71
  72. 72. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 U.S. Workers Overall: U.S. adults 18+ who have earned income from work within the past 12 months, including both freelancers and non-freelancers. Freelancers: Individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work, within the past 12 months. Full-time Freelancers: Individuals that describe their current freelance work status as “full-time freelancer.” Part-time Freelancers: Individuals that describe their current freelance work status as “part-time freelancer.” Non-freelancers: Individuals who earned income through work but have not engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work, within the past 12 months. Non-freelancers Employed Full-time: Individuals that describe their current work status as “employed full-time” and do not do any additional work outside of their primary job to supplement their income. Glossary 72
  73. 73. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 This study is commissioned by: Upwork Upwork is the largest global freelancing website. It enables businesses to find and work with highly skilled freelancers. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work—like software, shopping and content before it—is shifting online as well. This shift is making it easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place. Our company’s mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. Upwork is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Chicago. For more information, visit www.upwork.com, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Freelancers Union With over 375,000 members nationwide, Freelancers Union is the fastest-growing labor organization representing the independent workforce. We believe all workers should have the freedom to build meaningful, connected, and independent lives – backed by a system of mutual and public support. Freelancers Union members join together to build community, access benefits and educational resources, and form a powerful political constituency. For more information, visit www.freelancersunion.org. 73
  74. 74. E D E L M AN I N T E L L I G E N C E / © 2 0 1 8 For more details go to: https://www.upwork.com/i/freelancing-in-america/2018/

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