The gig economy in numbers

Beth Furness
December 9, 2020

In today's blog post we dive into some of the numbers that characterise the gig and freelance ecosystem. The Freelancers Union and UpWork have teamed up to present a report on the independent workforce, and here are some of their findings!

49% of gig workers prefer the name Freelance Economy over Gig Economy - it might be because the word “gig” bears connotations of non-professional tasks, when most of freelancers have experience, knowledge and expertise in what they are doing.  

In fact, freelancers are even most likely to participate in skills-related education in order to be up-to-date compared to non-freelancers - 55% of freelancers have reskilled in order to prepare for the future vs 30% of other workers.

47% of Millennial workers freelance - understandable. if you think that a big percentage of this generation is digital native, which means it is very familiar with digital technologies and automation. and educated when it comes to apps and the internet. Plus, they are entering the labour market now and freelance work is definitely a shortcut to acquiring professional experience.

57.3m people freelance, and this number is expected to reach 86.5m by 2027 - more people choose a freelancing career as technology progresses and as more digital natives reach the workforce age. Indicative for the growth is the percentage increase in full-time freelancers (17 percent in 2014 up to 29 percent in 2017). Moreover, people are not forced to do freelancing, rather they choose to do freelancing and their motivation behind this choice is the flexibility, the freedom and the increased earnings freelancing offers. In fact, 71% of freelancers saw an increase in the amount of work they landed on online in the past year.

$1.4 trillion is the estimated annual contribution of freelancers to the economy - this indicates that more companies and individuals seek flexible solutions when it comes to get the job done as everything is volatile and ever-changing in an economy driven by new technologies and automation.

63% of freelancers agree that having more than one employers is more secure than having only one - again this mirrors the volatile nature of employment nowadays. Work enabled by technology demands flexibility and diversity.

Though all indications, when it comes to the gig economy (or should we say the freelance economy?), are positive, there are certain concerns most freelancers share, and those are the unpredictability of their income, their ability to save and their access to working benefits, like affordable healthcare etc. With a new kind of workforce on the rise, it is imperative that governments start thinking and regulating all these matters in a fair and innovative way. Meanwhile, we at Appjobs, aspire to give you the guidance you need through this new upcoming economy.

*Based on “Freelancing in America”,  a 2017 study of the independent Workforce, commissioned by Freelancers Union and UpWork, and conducted by independent research firm Edelman Intelligence

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