53 Million Americans Are Freelancing, New Survey Finds

from Freelancers Union

Freelancing is the new normal — and we have the numbers to prove it.

More than 53 million Americans are doing freelance work, according to a new, landmark survey conducted by the independent research firm Edelman Berland and commissioned by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk.

That’s 34 percent of the entire workforce.

The old way of working isn’t working, More than 53 million workers are showing a new way — and tens of millions more will likely follow.

The new economy is already here — and it’s driven by freelancers.

More here.

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2 Comments

  1. The freelance economy is fast approaching. We see this as the article mentions that thirty four percent of the labor force are already participating. As technology advances, more and more jobs will be filled by robots and artificial intelligence with machine learning capabilities. What does machine learning mean? Well, just ask Elon Musk and Sam Altman; founders of a non-profit called Openai. Openai was created with the intention of creating a safe future with ai present. We all know that ai is the next wave of disruption technology, but its impacts on everybody’s personal lives are unknown at this time. We can only speculate how ai will affect the economy and society itself. Openai is working to set guidelines on ai use and provide research to the public on new advances in the sector as well as the dangers they process. For example, I recently saw a case study on Google’s Deepmind artificial intelligence technology. Incredibly, it was able to teach itself to walk! The ai was never taught or shown how to walk but it was able to teach itself using trial and error. The programmers that coded the ai incentivized it to get from point a to point b. The ai was given only sensors in order to familiarize itself with the surrounding environment. After many attempts, the ai was able to figure out that walking upright was the most efficient of the methods so it stuck with it and perfected it. So, why does this apply to the economy? Well, consider an ai capable of machine learning in the financial services sector. The ai would be able to do everything that a normal human could do; much cheaper and faster. This means we are soon to see a shift in the way corporations do business. Soon, businesses with replace the majority of the workforce with robots with artificial intelligence capabilities. One major concept to take away from these developments is the fact that this shift in economy does not just affect blue-collar employees. This affects white collar as well. Many people that are currently in college will be surprised with the influx of this technology when it replaces them at their job and they will be unable to find another. Because they are trained for a specific role that has now become obsolete, these people will be unable to find employment. With freelancing, at least you have a chance.

  2. The large amount of people turning to freelance labor is something that I am not surprised by, but something I assume is alarming to many corporations and companies. Many people I know myself, are turning to side jobs to supplement their income especially those who are photographers, crafters and graphic designers in specific. I found it most interesting that this article qualified those people as free lancers as I’m sure many of them wouldn’t think of themselves that way. Another part of this article was where it mentioned only 45% of those within the study identified as strictly independent, while 43% identified as supplementing their income. This I believe is important to look at because that means there is no true “majority” population for those in the freelancing area.

    The alarming fact to many businesses and those interested in these careers is that many individuals feel that they cannot maintain a standard of living with one job alone. This may keep people from entering these fields, and may cause future work life balance issues for these individuals as well. The expectation of these individuals to work more to earn more is not sustainable long term. While the college tuition crisis, high healthcare costs, and large pools of people leaving the workforce could account for these struggles, it is important that freelancers have a voice as more working hours could cause more legal issues for them. While, being apart of a large corporation or business may not be the answer for these individuals I do think many freelancers may benefit from a system similar to a union to address these concerns while also protecting them. While a decent number of freelancers are living the dream a large number are also struggling to get by. Unionizing may provide them with fairer wages, working hours and a better way to create a sustainable life.

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