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61 Freelance Statistics Data and Trends for 2021

Jessica Kramer

May 17, 2021

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Jessica Kramer
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Hi my name is Jessica K and I'm a writer for Servicelist. I've been writing freelance for several years.

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61 Freelance Statistics Data and Trends for 2021

The gig economy has been gaining ground over the past decade and all the more so amid the coronavirus disease pandemic. Aside from workers looking for additional sources of income, many ventures have also learned to outsource tasks for a more efficient and more affordable operation. In fact, even Fortune 500 companies are now hiring freelancers for needed tasks.


Whether you’re looking to hire a freelancer or planning to join the gig economy yourself, here are 61 freelance statistics you need to know. We’ve grouped the data according to categories, so feel free to jump to the bracket you’re most interested in.


Gig Economy General Data

  1. Gig workers are typically young. In fact, 38 percent of workers aged 18 to 34 are part of the gig economy.
  2. Thirty-six percent of workers in the U.S. participate in the gig economy either by their primary or secondary jobs.
  3. Engaging in freelance work doesn’t mean leaving a traditional job. For instance, data says 55 percent of gig workers also have a regular or a full-time job.
  4. Sixty-four percent of full-time workers said they wanted to do “side hustles” to earn extra money.
  5. If you think gig work is in the U.S., think again. One out of five full-time independents has customers outside the U.S.
  6. The demographics of freelance workers are relatively young. Electronically mediated workers likely fall under the prime-working-age category of 25 to 54 years old.
  7. Thirty-seven percent of full-time independents are 21 to 38 years old.
  8. Are gig workers only waiting to be employed full-time? Not really. Inf act, 75.7 percent of freelance workers would not let go of their gigs for a full-time job.
  9. Sixty-four percent of gig workers are doing their preferred work. 

Freelance Industry Growth

  1. One in six workers in traditional jobs is thinking of pursuing a gig to become an independent earner.
  2. Three to ten percent of workers in mature economies accept gigs as a secondary income source.
  3. Three out of ten people in developing countries said they use gig platforms as their secondary source of income.
  4. As per McKinsey, 20 to 30 percent of the U.S. and EU-15 working-age population are engaged in independent earning, which includes gig work.
  5. The increase of work-from-home opportunities affected the transportation sector. In fact, transportation sector earnings fell by 53 percent between 2013 and 2017.
  6. Sixty percent of gig workers don’t have alternative jobs simply because they neither want nor need one. 
  7. Those who actively chose their working style, such as freelance gigs, said they had better satisfaction at work.
  8. Forty-four percent of full-time freelance workers typically find work via word of mouth.
  9. Aside from word of mouth, gig workers also find work through social media and online commerce marketplaces.

Global Freelance Market Size

  1. BCG Henderson says around 40 percent of executives worldwide look to freelance workers to account for a higher share of the company’s workforce over the next years. 
  2. If you’re wondering how many freelancers in the world there are, you will find varying data to answer the question. However, Upwork says there 57.3 million people in the U.S. are either freelancers or engage in freelance work. 
  3. Fiverr says they have over 7 million users as of the moment.
  4. As per data, 35.5 percent of the freelancing community is located in Europe.
  5. Latin America, on the other hand, is where 29.2 percent of the freelancing community is.
  6. While Asia, where 29.2 percent of gig workers are, comes in at a close third.


Earning Potential

  1. Freelance work is the main source of income for 44 percent of gig workers.
  2. The gig economy is the main source of 53 percent of gig workers aged 18-34.
  3. Gig workers contribute bulk to the economy. In fact, freelance workers in the U.S. account for over $1.4 trillion of the U.S. income in 2018. 
  4. Almost two in every ten gig workers say they maintain a freelance job. This is to earn extra money or to pay for day-to-day expenses.
  5. The gig economy has become a lot more than a source of extra income. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. workers rely on gig work for 40 percent of their income.
  6. Forty-five percent of respondents said that they chose to remain independent for their future career.
  7. Only 20 percent said they wanted to find a full-time post in the future.
  8. Sixty three percent of freelance workers think that having a diversified portfolio of clients is secure.
  9. More than two in every 10 full-time gig workers in 2018 report earning $100,000 or more.
  10. In connection to the preceding freelance statistics, gig workers who earned $100,000 above likely work in highly skilled fields.


Freelance Job Categories

  1. Gig workers have an average of 4.5 clients per month. 
  2. Forty one percent of gig workers said that they were hired because they had unique skills that suit an ad hoc project.
  3. If you’re looking for freelancing trends, here’s an interesting piece of info: most gig workers or 14 percent are engaged in arts, design, media, and sports.
  4. In relation to the preceding data, the second largest freelance worker category is sales and related tasks, which accounts for 10 percent of gig workers.
  5. Most of Fiverr’s users are content writers, web developers, and graphic designers. 
  6. Upwork, on the other hand, says the platform has over 17 million users.
  7. Upwork freelance writing statistics says writers earn up to $24 an hour on the platform.
  8. There are more than 9,000 graphic designers on Upwork’s platform.
  9. On the other hand, WordPress development is the line of work of 2,000 of Upwork’s users.


The Market for Freelance Services

  1. There are 57 million freelance workers in the U.S., thus implying a huge market for freelance services.
  2. Three out of ten freelance writers earn under $10 per hour in their first year.
  3. Three out of ten freelance workers earn over $75,000 a year.
  4. Thirty percent of Fortune 500 companies hire freelance workers through Upwork.
  5. Upwork has over 5 million job postings for freelance workers. 
  6. With such a competitive market, 66 percent of gig workers undergo retraining to stay relevant.
  7. Generation Z was the biggest freelance workforce group in 2019. In fact, 53 percent of people aged 18 to 22 did freelance work during that year.


Gig Economy Outlook

  1. Upwork has an optimistic outlook for the gig economy. In fact, it estimates a total of 86.5 million freelancers by 2027. 
  2. Contingent employees in the U.S. exceeded 40 percent of the workforce in 2020.
  3. Half of the execs surveyed agree that corporate entities adopting gig platforms are a highly crucial trend.
  4. Three in four execs know the importance of gig workers when sourcing skills that are hard to find.
  5. Ninety-one percent of execs say sourcing hard-to-find skills through the gig economy will continue for the next few years.
  6. Three in every four freelance workers said their income remained stable amid the pandemic, making it a lucrative option during hard times.
  7. Eight in every ten freelance workers think that proper business training is crucial to their work. As a result, they try to find opportunities to hone their skills.
  8. Added to that, 65 percent of skilled freelancers have taken extra training to enhance their soft skills.
  9. That said, it’s not surprising that nine out of ten freelance workers said they believe in the value of soft skills to achieve greater success in the future.
  10. Nine out of ten people in the U.S. are now open to freelance jobs.


These data only tell us how the gig economy has evolved over the years. And due to the pandemic and based on the rate that it’s expanding, it looks like it will be here to stay and will only keep on growing for the years to come. 


Sources:

Gig Economy General Data
  1. https://www.edisonresearch.com/americans-and-the-gig-economy/
  2. https://www.gallup.com/file/workplace/240878/Gig_Economy_Paper_2018.pdf
  3. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  4. https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennial-survey-freelance-flexibility.html
  5. https://www.mbopartners.com/blog/category/independent-workforce-trends/
  6. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2016/article/what-is-the-gig-economy.htm
  7. https://www.mbopartners.com/blog/category/independent-workforce-trends/
  8. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  9. https://www.gallup.com/file/workplace/240878/Gig_Economy_Paper_2018.pdf
Freelance Industry Growth
  1. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Employment%20and%20Growth/Independent%20work%20Choice%20necessity%20and%20the%20gig%20economy/Independent-Work-Choice-necessity-and-the-gig-economy-Executive-Summary.pdf 
  2. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/new-freelancers-tapping-talent-gig-economy
  3. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Employment%20and%20Growth/Independent%20work%20Choice%20necessity%20and%20the%20gig%20economy/Independent-Work-Choice-necessity-and-the-gig-economy-Executive-Summary.pdf
  4. https://www.jpmorganchase.com/institute/research/labor-markets/report-ope-2018.htm
  5. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  6. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Employment%20and%20Growth/Independent%20work%20Choice%20necessity%20and%20the%20gig%20economy/Independent-Work-Choice-necessity-and-the-gig-economy-Executive-Summary.pdf
  7. https://www.mbopartners.com/blog/category/independent-workforce-trends/
  8. https://www.mbopartners.com/blog/category/independent-workforce-trends/
Global Freelance Market Size
  1. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/new-freelancers-tapping-talent-gig-economy
  2. https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/53-million-americans-now-freelance-new-study-finds-2
  3. https://www.fiverr.com/support/articles/360010750318-Viewing-Gig-Statistics
  4. https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/this-survey-of-21000-freelancers-from-170-countries-shows-what-having-no-boss-is-like.html
  5. https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/this-survey-of-21000-freelancers-from-170-countries-shows-what-having-no-boss-is-like.html
  6. https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/this-survey-of-21000-freelancers-from-170-countries-shows-what-having-no-boss-is-like.html


Earning Potential
  1. https://www.edisonresearch.com/americans-and-the-gig-economy/
  2. https://www.edisonresearch.com/americans-and-the-gig-economy/
  3. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  4. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  5. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  6. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/new-freelancers-tapping-talent-gig-economy
  7. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/new-freelancers-tapping-talent-gig-economy
  8. https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/53-million-americans-now-freelance-new-study-finds-2
  9. https://www.mbopartners.com/blog/category/independent-workforce-trends/
  10. https://www.mbopartners.com/blog/category/independent-workforce-trends/


Freelance Job Categories
  1. https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/53-million-americans-now-freelance-new-study-finds-2
  2. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  3. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  4. https://www.pymnts.com/gig-economy-index/
  5. https://www.fiverr.com/categories
  6. https://www.upwork.com/i/how-it-works/freelancer/
  7. https://www.upwork.com/i/how-it-works/freelancer/
  8. https://www.upwork.com/i/how-it-works/freelancer/
  9. https://www.upwork.com/i/how-it-works/freelancer/ 


The Market for Freelance Services
  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/685468/amount-of-people-freelancing-us/
  2. https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/02/how-much-do-freelance-writers-make.html
  3. https://venngage.com/blog/how-much-do-writers-make/ 
  4. https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/fortune-500-enterprises
  5. https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/freelancing-in-america-2019
  6. https://99firms.com/blog/freelance-statistics/#gref
  7. https://www.statista.com/statistics/531012/freelancers-by-age-us/


Gig Economy Outlook
  1. https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/freelancing-in-america-2017 
  2. https://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/CMO/intuit/futureofsmallbusiness/intuit_2020_report.pdf
  3. https://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/CMO/intuit/futureofsmallbusiness/intuit_2020_report.pdf 
  4. https://www.fieldglass.com/resources/research/external-workforce-insights-2018
  5. https://www.fieldglass.com/resources/research/external-workforce-insights-2018
  6. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---cabinet/documents/publication/wcms_756331.pdf
  7. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---cabinet/documents/publication/wcms_756331.pdf
  8. https://www.wbtsystems.com/learning-hub/blogs/lifelong-learning-in-the-freelance-economy
  9. https://www.wbtsystems.com/learning-hub/blogs/lifelong-learning-in-the-freelance-economy
  10. https://www.wbtsystems.com/learning-hub/blogs/lifelong-learning-in-the-freelance-economy.