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30 million Americans rely on freelance work as primary income source: MetLife report

August 23, 2019

A report released the week by insurance and benefits firm MetLife Inc. found that some 30 million Americans rely on what it refers to as “gig work” as their primary income source, and 67% of full-time employees indicated interest in such work over their current jobs. The report also found that another 15 million supplement their traditional, full-time work with freelancing.

MetLife defines gig work as “work based on a fixed-term contract or that is paid per project by a company, third party or online marketplace.” However, Staffing Industry Analysts defines the gig economy as including all types of contingent work.

“As interest in gig continues to swell, employers who take the time to understand gig workers — and think through their needs and wants from work — will reap the benefits of a more engaged, diverse and satisfied workforce,” said James Reid, executive VP, global employee benefits, MetLife.

The report also found that 85% of workers MetLife defines as being in the gig economy are interested in continuing such work over the next five years versus a more traditional role. And of the 20% of workers already earning extra money through side hustles, 49% of those plan to leave their current employer for contract or freelance work in the next five years.

However, only 4% of what it defines as gig workers report their companies offer medical insurance and only 5% offer a retirement plan.


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