Freelance Forward 2020

September 23, 2020

A new study Freelance Forward 2020, sponsored by Upwork that traditionally defines US freelancers in broadest terms, has been released. The results are insightful as well as up-to-date. However, if you don’t have time to read the full results deck, here are our highlights:

  • The proportion of full-time freelancers in US workforce has risen a bit, to 13%.
  • Freelancers report a lower negative impact from COVID-19 compared to non-freelancers on their well-being, lifestyle, mental health, and finance.
  • 65% of skilled freelancers who were freelancing pre and during COVID-19 say their hours have either stayed the same or increased since the onset of the pandemic.
  • 58% of traditional workers who began working remotely after COVID-19 are considering freelancing in the future. Conversely, 12% of the US workforce began freelancing during the pandemic for the first time.
  • Of those who quit their full-time job in order to freelance, 75% say they earn the same or more in pay than when they had a traditional employer.
  • Freelancers contributed $1.2 trillion to the US economy in annual earnings, a 22% increase since 2019.
  • On average, freelancers spent 25% of their working time on business-building activities, 23% on administrative tasks, and 52% on billable work for clients.
  • 47% of freelancers view freelancing as a long-term career choice.
  • 65% of freelancers age 55+ see freelancing as a good way to transition into retirement and are less likely to be concerned about saving for retirement than their non-freelancing counterparts.
  • Full-time freelancers and those who do skilled work identify themselves as the freelance economy.
  • 86% of freelancers say that the best days are ahead for freelancing 💙

Note: The report replaces past surveys Freelancing in America (2014-19) that were co-produced with Freelancers Union, and seem to be discontinued from this year on.

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