Quarterly Trends Report: Q4 2017

New research predicts that by 2027, freelancers will comprise more than 50% of the U.S workforce. Technology — specifically online talent platforms — is contributing to this growth by making it easy for medium and large companies to work without limits.

Upwork is the largest global freelancing website that connects businesses with freelancers and agencies across 5,000 skills. This report was created using aggregate data on all Upwork clients with more than 100 employees to help medium and large businesses plan for evolving market trends and demands.

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the report

The following report is based on transactional data of all active clients with more than 100 employees across our various offerings, from Upwork, Upwork Pro, to Upwork Enterprise. This data can be used to:

  • Assess the maturity of contingent workforce strategies across industries
  • Identify skills gaps companies are filling with freelancers
  • Evaluate whether hourly rates for specialized skills are in line with market rates
This interactive landing page was designed by a freelancer on upwork.

Upwork clients by industry

Industries like Professional Services, Manufacturing, and Consumer Goods had the greatest number of clients utilizing Upwork in Q4.

22%17%11%10%8%6%5%5%3%3%3%3%Professional ServicesManufacturingOther Consumer GoodsTechnologyHealthcareEducationFinanceMedia/ EntertainmentPharmaceuticalsFood & BeverageEnergyHospitalityGovernment
02Company size

Upwork clients by company size

The majority of Upwork clients with 100+ employees in Q4 fell within the 100-499 company size range. However, larger companies are quickly following suit to compete in the global economy with nearly 20% of Fortune 500 companies already using Upwork to fill critical skills gaps.

77%8%11%4%100-499 employees500-999 employees1,000-9,999 employees10,000+ employees
03Client location

Upwork clients by location

In Q4, the majority of medium and large clients were headquartered in the United States, with the heaviest concentration of Upwork clients in the Northeast.


Upwork users by department

Our self-reported client data shows marketing teams utilized Upwork to meet business demands significantly more than other departments. For the first time, HR was near the top of the list, which may reflect how they’re rethinking talent strategies to support business partners with faster access to talent.

25%12%11%10%8%7%7%7%5%4%4%MarketingHRIT /EngineeringExecutiveFinanceOtherDesignOperationsLegalProcurementCustomer Support
05Performance metrics

Upwork performance metrics

On average, clients found and contracted qualified talent 10x faster, improved project fill rates, and engaged higher quality talent compared to traditional talent sourcing methods.

Upwork vs
industry average

Time to contract3 days30 DaysProject fill rate68%40%


Industry average

06Freelancer countries

Top 10 freelancer countries

Although the U.S. consistently tops the list, location is increasingly less important to medium and large businesses. In Q4, countries like the Philippines, India, and Ukraine beat predominantly English speaking countries.