A recent survey by Freelancers Union and Upwork found that almost 54 million Americans are working as freelancers, leading many economists to speculate that the current “information economy” of Silicon Valley will fall to a new “freelancing economy” sooner rather than later.
The U.S. isn’t the only country seeing a tremendous amount of growth in freelance workers, however.
According to the Australian freelance-focused firm Elance-oDesk, around 30% of the Australian workforce (4.1 million people) are working independently and earning a collective $51 billion. The International Business Times stated that companies such as Freelancer, Upwork, Airtasker, Expert360, and 99designs are all facilitating the rise of freelance-based professional relationships; perhaps even more importantly, as Upwork’s survey noted, is the fact that 75% of freelancers earn more money within their first year of working independently than they would have earned at a traditional office job.
Millennials make up the majority (43%) of the U.S. freelancing population, while in Australia, the recent uptick of freelance workers seems to be most prevalent among Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Regardless of the age group, it seems that many adults believe that traditional jobs are no longer as secure as they used to be.
Both countries are considered to be fairly wealthy, and the U.S. even circulates or deposits over $7.6 trillion per year in gold, but both countries are heavily involved in international markets and this makes it difficult to maintain economic stability. As both countries see their national debt increase (the U.S. is over $18 trillion; Australia is around $415 billion), workers are realizing that retirement plans and benefits packages are becoming things of the past.
Still, it doesn’t seem as though most workers feel forced to choose freelance work over traditional jobs. At least 60% of American freelancers state that they made the choice to begin freelancing, and nearly the same rate (58%) of Australian freelancers say the same. Of the entire freelance population, one out of every two workers state that they wouldn’t return to a traditional corporate job no matter how much it paid.
If national governments cannot ensure employment, and if employers cannot ensure financial stability, then it seems the best choice may be to work independently.