Freelancers Union, Upwork
First published October 2016
2016 is the third year we have conducted “Freelancing in America” – the most comprehensive measure of the U.S. independent workforce available. Going into this year’s survey, we already knew that millions of Americans today are choosing to be part of the independent workforce, driven by freedom and flexibility. Moreover, technology is making it easier to find freelance work, making freelancing an increasingly popular way to work and live.
What distinguishes and excites us about “Freelancing in America: 2016” is not only how much the freelance economy continues to grow – now at 35% of the U.S. workforce – but also the potential impact of independent workers in the 2016 presidential election. The economy is top of mind for voters – and especially so for freelancers. Of the 55 million Americans who have joined the freelance economy, 85% say they are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. That’s a powerful, diverse, motivated bloc of voters, and they have a distinct set of priorities.
Our annual survey finds that over two-thirds of independent workers say they are more likely to vote for a candidate that supports freelancers’ interests. But despite freelancers’ huge numbers – and the estimated $1 trillion they earned last year, representing a sizable share of the U.S. economy – freelancers overwhelmingly say we need more discussion of how to empower the independent workforce.
The days of the traditional nine-to-five job are long gone. Freelancing is here to stay. As the economy shifts, our elected officials need to shift with it by supporting the independent workers and voters who are helping to move the economy forward.