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57 million Americans freelance, their income is nearly $1 trillion: Upwork

October 03, 2019

An estimated 57 million Americans are freelancing this year — up from 56.7 million in 2018 — and their income is nearly $1 trillion, according to the report “Freelancing in America: 2019,” released today by online staffing firm Upwork Inc. (NASDAQ: UPWK) and Freelancers Union.

The report, which has been done since 2014, also found for the first time this year that as many freelancers said they view this way of working as a long-term career choice as they do a temporary way to make money.

“The stronger economy provides more optionality and opportunity, and as a result, more people are seeing freelancing as a long-term choice, and fewer are doing it on a temporary basis,” said Adam Ozimek, Upwork chief economist.

The share of those who freelance full-time rose to 28% this year from 17% in 2014.

It also found that freelancers doing skilled services earn a median rate of $28 per hour. The median rate for all freelancers is $20 an hour.

“The 2019 Freelancing in America report shows that freelancing has become a long-term career choice for an increasingly diverse group,” said Caitlin Pearce, executive director of Freelancers Union. “More than one in three Americans are freelancing. But this workforce continues to face significant challenges in being able to access affordable healthcare and fundamental protections so they can get paid fairly and on time for the work they do.”

Younger workers are also more likely to freelance, according to the study. It found that 53% of Gen Z workers, 40% of millennial workers, 31% of Gen X workers and 29% of baby boomers freelanced.

“Freelancing is a respected, long-term career path,” said Stephane Kasriel, president and CEO of Upwork. “It’s remarkable to see this way of working empowering the youngest generation more than any prior generation and also to see the ways freelancing is opening up opportunities for inclusion in the workforce.”

The survey included 6,001 US adults. Freelancers were defined as those who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work within the past 12 months.

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