New Upwork Study Finds 36% of the U.S. Workforce Freelance Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Upwork (UPWK), the leading online talent solution, today 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 even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing $1.2 trillion to the economy. This increase was fueled in part by an influx of younger, highly-skilled professionals seeking flexible alternatives to traditional employment.
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Upwork's Freelance Forward: 2020 Report (Graphic: Business Wire)
Upwork's seventh annual study1 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.
This year's research revealed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the composition and demographics of the freelance workforce. For the full study results, view the deck here and to view analysis by Upwork's Chief Economist Adam Ozimek, read his report here.
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 an 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. The study is conducted by independent research firm Edelman (News - Alert) Intelligence. 6,001 U.S. working adults over the age of 18 were surveyed for it online between June 15, 2020 - July 7, 2020. Of those, 2,132 were freelancers and 3,869 were non-freelancers. Results were weighted to ensure demographic representation in line with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2019 Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey. The study has an overall margin of error of ±1.2% at the 95% level of confidence.
Upwork is the leading online talent solution transforming traditional staffing. We empower businesses with more flexible access to quality talent, on demand. Through Upwork's matching technology and services, companies have access to a global pool of proven professionals so they can scale their teams dynamically to meet business needs. Upwork also provides skilled professionals access to more opportunities.
Upwork's mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. The community of independent professionals working via Upwork spans many categories including software development, creative & design, finance & accounting, consulting, operations, and customer support-over 8,000 skills are represented.
Upwork is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., with an office in Chicago as well as team members in more than 800 cities worldwide. For more information, visit Upwork's website at www.upwork.com and join us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
1Prior studies conducted by Upwork were co-commissioned by the Freelancers' Union under the name Freelancing in America. This study, the first annual Freelance Forward study, cites those prior studies' findings, which are available at https://www.upwork.com/i/freelancing-in-america/.
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