More Than One-Third of the U.S. Workforce Is Freelancing

September 14, 2020

Freelance work is bigger than ever, contributing $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy, and with 59 million Americans participating in some form of freelance work in the last 12 months, according to a study from Upwork. This means that more than one-third of the labor force engages in freelance work. It should be noted that this does not mean their work is primarily or exclusively freelance, as many people who work a traditional job will do gig work on the side.

This marks a sizable increase from last year, with the total contribution increasing 22% and the number of participants growing by 2 million.

The growth is primarily attributable to the influx of young workers entering the workforce during the COVID lockdown. More than half of the Gen Z (those ages 18-22) workforce has freelanced in the last year, and of those, more than 36% started since the pandemic. It remains to be seen how much of this is a lasting change, or if as the job market improves and offices reopen, young workers will opt for more traditional work.

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