State Of Freelancing: Statistics You Need To Know

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Since the start of 2020, American’s confidence in the current economy has dropped by 19.2 index points. Professionals around the world continue to ditch traditional 9-5 jobs in favor of freelancing. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the gig economy continued making in-roads. But what are the current trends of the freelancing industry? In this article, I’ll walk you through freelance stats relevant in 2021 to help you find out the same.

Table of Contents

General Freelance Statistics

Let’s begin with a broad overview of freelancing through some general stats.

  • 36% of workers reported that they freelanced even in the pandemic – up 8% from 2019. (Upwork)
  • There are 12 million registered freelancers on Upwork.
  • 58% of non-freelancers are now considering freelancing in the future. (Upwork)
  • 53% of freelancers believe that demand will increase from what it was before the pandemic. (Payoneer 2020)

Freelance Workforce Statistics (USA)

Do you know that a significant number of Americans freelanced even during the COVID-19 pandemic and contributed 1.2 trillion to the economy? In this section, let’s look at a few more intriguing statistics related to the freelance workforce.

  • 59 million Americans freelanced in the past year. This is 36% of the total US workforce. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)
  • 38% of independent workers identify themselves as freelancers. (AND.CO)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 72% of new freelancers are male. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)
  • 70% of Freelancers work on 2-4 projects at a time. (AND.CO)
  • 61% of freelancers specialize in 2-3 skills. (AND.CO)

  • 40% of people chose to freelance for personal growth. (AND.CO)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 65% of freelancers earn more than they did in a full-time job. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)
  • The frequency of freelance work has increased by over 6 points since 2019. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 32% of freelancers are paid hourly. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)
  • 33% of freelancers work in a creative field. (AND.CO)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 50% of Gen Z workers have done freelance work in the past year. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 43% of freelancers live in an urban area. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)
  •  45% of post-grads are freelancers. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 87% of American freelancers prefer a flexible schedule and work-life balance. (AND.CO)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 10% of the Americans have paused freelancing due to COVID-19. (Upwork Freelance Forward 2020 Report)

Let’s delve into the pandemic’s effect on freelancers in the USA.

Impact of Covid-19 on Freelance Work (USA)

According to Upwork’s Freelance Forward 2020 Report, some freelancers haven’t done freelance work since the onset of the pandemic, and are referred to as Paused Freelancers. There is a percentage of people who have always freelanced and are known as Always Freelancers. The people who started freelancing after the onset of the pandemic are known as New Freelancers. 

  • 28% of freelancers stopped working after the onset of the pandemic.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 34% of Americans started doing freelance work at the onset of the pandemic.
  • Paused freelancers are 7% more likely to be in education.

  • New Freelancers are 4% more likely than paused freelancers to be in finance.
  • 82% of freelancers are working remotely.
  • 58% of all diversified workers started freelancing during the pandemic.
  • 48% of new freelancers view freelancing as a long term career.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 64% of paused freelancers are likely to view their freelance career as temporary.

Next, let’s look at the global freelance statistics.

Global Freelance Statistics

Payoneer surveyed over 1000 freelancers from more than 100 countries, and here’s how the stats look like:

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 53.1% North Americans and 52.6% European freelancers reported the highest slowdown in demand.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • Only 23% of freelancers have lowered their hourly rate.
  • 83% of freelancers who manage their team reported having kept the same rates for their team or even increased them in a few cases.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 53% of freelancers believe demand will increase from what it was before Covid-19.
  • 21% of freelancers expect the demand to show how it was before the pandemic. 

Now, it’s time to see how the pandemic affected the productivity of freelancers. 

Remote Work And Productivity Statistics

CNBC’s Survey Monkey and FlexJobs’ survey reports give an insight into people’s satisfaction at work and productivity during the pandemic. Let’s look at the key findings from them:

  • 51% of people have been more productive working from home. (FlexJobs)
  • 38% of workers are now happier to have their job. (Survey Monkey Report)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 84% of female workers feel that their contributions at work are valued by their colleagues. (Survey Monkey Report)
  • 91% of people think their work to be meaningful. (Survey Monkey Report)

  • 17% of people are likely to work from home post-pandemic. (Survey Monkey Report)
  • 72% enjoy the lack of commuting costs. (FlexJobs)
  • 36% of workers reported round trip commutes of 2 hours or more. (FlexJobs)
  • 75% of people felt safe going to work during a pandemic. (Survey Monkey Report)
  • 80% of people are satisfied with the measures their companies have put in to keep them safe. (Survey Monkey Report)

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 73% said they had a perfect work-life balance due to working from home. (FlexJobs)

The pandemic’s effect on employment is severe, however, there hasn’t been much discussion on hiring managers. Let’s look at the habits of hiring managers and the future of freelancing.

Future Of Freelancing

There is an obvious upward trend of workers switching to freelance style and hiring managers offering remote work. Upwork’s Future of Workforce Pulse Report shows the habits of the hiring managers during Covid-19 and the workforce’s view of remote work. Let’s understand what the future of freelancing looks like.

  • 41.8% of Americans remain fully remote.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 48% of hiring managers are working with individual talent today.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 73% of hiring managers who see the value in remote work are engaging independent professionals.
  • 61% of people either lack people or skills to complete all their work.
  • 68% of hiring managers say remote work is getting easier as time goes on.

Freelance Statistics 2021

  • 1.6% to 2.7% increase in the likelihood of hiring freelancers.
  • 32% of hiring managers say remote work has increased productivity.
  • By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase by pre-pandemic level.
  • A 10% increase in the share of workers who plan to be fully remote in the long run. 

Final Thoughts

Freelancing opportunities are on the rise. The statistics show that people want to be their boss. Hiring managers see value in remote work and are engaging independent professionals. This opens numerous doors for freelancers. However, the gender gap remains wide. 

Freelancing comes with risks and uncertainties. But do the freelance statistics in this article compel you to try it in 2021? Let me know in the comments below.

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A former software product review writer at Elite Content Marketer, Ayushi loved learning and sharing new avenues to help creators. Besides, she’s a trained classical dancer, a sucker for R&B music, and a baker. Kafka has her heart and Søren, her mind.