Largest independent workforce survey -- commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union -- reveals new insights into freelancing in America Key findings: Freelancers earned an estimated $1 trillion this year, are a highly motivated voter bloc eager to support 2016 candidates who speak to their issues NEW YORK and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - October 6, 2016 - Upwork in partnership with Freelancers Union today released the results of “Freelancing in America: 2016,” the most comprehensive measure of the U.S. independent workforce. The study analyzes the size of the freelance economy and provides insights into the lives of independent workers and their potential impact on the 2016 Presidential Election. The third annual year of the study is a landmark year since trend data is now available. “The freelance workforce is the fastest-growing component of the economy. Figuring out where it is going is the most pressing question of our digital age. Working together, Upwork and Freelancers Union are asking the questions that matter, and, through their unique position, finding the answers that we all want to know,” said Louis Hyman, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Workplace Studies, Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Most notable trends the study reveals:
- Freelancing is growing - The freelance workforce grew from 53 million in 2014 to 55 million in 2016 and currently represents 35% of the U.S. workforce. The freelance workforce earned an estimated $1 trillion this past year, representing a significant share of the U.S. economy.
- People are increasingly freelancing by choice as the job market changes - Asked whether they started freelancing more by choice or necessity, 63% of freelancers said by choice -- up 10 points (from 53%) since 2014. The majority of freelancers said that today, having a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than having one employer.
- Technology is enabling freelancing - 73% of freelancers said that technology has made it easier to find freelance work -- up 4 points (from 69%) since 2014. Additionally, 66% of freelancers said the amount of work they have obtained online has increased in the past year.
- Freelancers will turn out at the polls - 85% of freelancers said they are likely to vote (47 million voters).
- Current candidate preference - 45% of freelancers said they’d vote for Hillary Clinton, 33% said they’d vote for Donald Trump, 9% said they’d vote for Gary Johnson, and 12% said they were undecided (among freelancers who said they’re likely to vote).
- Candidates can win freelancers’ votes - 68% of freelancers said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported their interests.
- Messages that resonate most with freelancers - 67% of freelancers are more likely to vote for candidates who say they support them having “a strong voice in deciding issues about their work” or “having access to health and retirement benefits regardless of their employment status.”
- Desire for more discussion of freelancers’ interests - 70% of freelancers said we need more open discussion of how to empower the independent workforce, up 7 points (from 63%) since 2015.