Predicting the future of work isn’t just about guessing how AI and automation will change (or eliminate) jobs. It’s looking at how people will get their work done. And according to the latest survey by Upwork and Freelancers Union, it’s going to look at lot like freelancing.
The survey of over 6,000 working adults revealed that more than one in three (35%) Americans freelanced this year. The freelance workforce grew from 53 million to 56.7 million, or 7%, in the past 5 years. Meanwhile, the U.S. workforce only grew 2% (from 103 million to 105.3 million) during that time.
Not only have the ranks of freelancers grown more rapidly than the traditional workforce, but so have the average weekly hours spent freelancing. That number shot up to more than 1 billion hours this year from 998 million in 2015. And they’re happy to do it. A little over half (51%) of all freelancers say no amount of money would get them to take a traditional job.
Freelancers continue to build skills more than the traditional workforce. Nearly three quarters (70%) of freelancers trained to gain more skills vs. 49% of full-time non-freelancers. Only 79% said their college education was useful to the work they do now.
Finally, freelancers are saying they’re more politically active–and 72% are willing to cross party lines to vote for candidates who support affordable and accessible healthcare, higher pay, and retirement for these workers.
Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel wrote more extensively about the study in an article for Fast Company here.