Upwork has released the results of “Freelance Forward: 2020”, the most comprehensive study of the U.S. independent workforce, which found that a significant number of Americans freelanced during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing $1.2 trillion to the economy.
The increase was fueled in part by an influx of younger, highly-skilled professionals seeking flexible alternatives to traditional employment. They surveyed more than 6,000 U.S. workers over the age of 18 and found that 59 million Americans performed freelance work in the past 12 months, representing 36% of the U.S. workforce, an increase of 2 million freelancers since 2019.
Key findings reveal:
“It’s no surprise that freelancing is on the rise, especially now that we have fully disentangled ‘where’ we work from ‘what’ we work on,” said Hayden Brown, President and CEO of Upwork. “Amid all of the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, the data shows that independent professionals are benefiting from income diversification, schedule flexibility, and increased productivity. At the same time, companies are finding that these professionals can quickly inject new skills and capabilities into an organization and strategically flex capacity up and down along with changes in demand and workloads. We expect this trend to continue as companies increasingly rely on freelancers as essential contributors to their own operations.”
"Amidst the economic challenges in 2020, freelancing continues to be an important part of the economy," said Adam Ozimek, Upwork Chief Economist. "To adapt to the changes and uncertainty of COVID-19, we saw many professionals enter the freelance workforce for the first time. At the same time, the shift towards greater workforce flexibility coupled with the necessity to maintain continuity brought new demand for independent professionals from businesses. The changing dynamics to the workforce that has occurred during the crisis demonstrate the value that freelancing provides to both businesses and workers.”
Additional findings include:
Freelancing Increases Opportunities
The State of the Freelance Workforce
The Changing Freelance Workforce Due to COVID-19
Freelancers’ Perspectives on Skills and Training
The Future of Freelancing
About Freelance Forward: 2020
To see further insights, please visit https://www.upwork.com/i/freelance-forward for access to the full results deck and other materials.