The Future of Work: 60 Freelance Statistics


freelance statistics

This article looks at 60 insightful freelance statistics, from their definition and types to their growth and impact. We will also look at future trends and predictions for this dynamic and evolving industry. Freelancing is transforming how we work, creating new opportunities, challenges, and benefits for workers and businesses.

Freelancing is not new, but it has gained unprecedented momentum in the past decade. More and more people are choosing to work independently, offering their skills and services to clients across the globe.

Understanding The Freelance Industry

The freelance industry is a sector of the economy that consists of self-employed individuals who offer their skills and services to clients on a project-by-project basis without being tied to a single employer or organization. The freelance industry is also known as the gig economy, the on-demand economy, or the independent workforce.

The freelance industry is influenced by various factors, such as technology, economy, society, and environment, as well as the preferences, motivations, and expectations of freelancers and clients. The freelance industry is also shaping and being shaped by these factors, creating new opportunities, challenges, and benefits for both workers and businesses.

The Concept of Freelancing

Freelancing is a form of self-employment where a person works on a project-by-project basis without being tied to a single employer or organization. Freelancers can work on multiple projects simultaneously, set their rates and schedules, and choose their clients and collaborators. Freelancing can be done full-time or part-time, depending on the individual’s preferences and goals.

Some of the statistics that illustrate the concept of freelancing are:

  1. Freelancing continues to be a significant part of the U.S. labor market and economy: Freelancers contributed $1.27 trillion to the U.S. economy in annual earnings in 2023.
  2. The share of professionals freelancing increased to nearly 64 million Americans, making up 38% of the U.S. workforce.
  3. 47% of all freelancers, or around 30 million professionals, provided knowledge services such as computer programming, marketing, IT, and business consulting in 2023.
  4. 23% of all freelancers, or 14.7 million professionals, create influencer content like livestream services, social media videos or images, or blogs in 2023.

Types of Freelance Work

Freelance work spans a wide array of fields and industries, driven by the demand for the skills and services offered by freelancers. Common types of freelance work include writing and editing, graphic design and web development, programming and software development, marketing and social media management, consulting and coaching, accounting and bookkeeping, photography and videography, translation and interpretation, teaching and tutoring, as well as virtual assistance and data entry. Some of the gig economy statistics that reveal the prevalence of the different types of freelance work are:

  1. According to a report by Payoneer, a global payment platform for freelancers, the most popular freelance occupation in 2020 was web and graphic design, followed by programming and IT, and writing and translation.
  2. The same report found that the average hourly rate for web and graphic design was $21, for programming and IT was $28, and for writing and translation was $19.
  3. According to a report by Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, the most popular freelance platforms in 2020 were Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Guru.com.

The Growth of the Freelancing Industry

Global Freelance Workforce Trend

The freelance workforce is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers and diversity. More people from different backgrounds, ages, genders, and locations are joining the freelance economy, creating a global and diverse talent pool. The freelance workforce is also becoming more professional, skilled, and experienced as freelancers invest in their education, training, and development.

Some of the statistics that depict the size and growth of the worldwide freelance workforce are:

  1. The global freelance workforce was estimated at 162 million in 2019, representing 9% of the global workforce.
  2. It is projected that the global freelance workforce will grow to 216 million by 2025, representing 12% of the global workforce.
  3. Ninety-seven percent of U.S. freelancers surveyed have domestic clients, but only 58% have international clients.

The Number of Freelancers in the US

The US is one of the largest and most mature markets for freelancing, with a long history and culture of independent work. The US freelance workforce is diverse, dynamic, and influential, contributing significantly to the economy and society.

Some of the statistics on the number of freelancers in the US are:

  1. There were 57.3 million freelancers in the US in 2019, representing 35% of the US workforce.
  2. It is estimated that there will be 86.5 million freelancers in the US by 2027, representing 50% of the US workforce.
  3. There were 41.1 million independent workers in the US in 2020, including 15.8 million full-time freelancers, 12.4 million part-time freelancers, and 12.9 million occasional freelancers.

Freelancing Across Different Industries

Freelancing is not limited to any specific industry or sector but rather spans across various domains and disciplines. Freelancers can work in traditional fields, such as finance, law, and education, as well as emerging fields, such as e-commerce, gaming, and blockchain. Freelancers can also create their own niches, combining their skills and interests in unique and innovative ways.

Some of the statistics that reveal the prevalence of freelancing across various industries are:

  1. Due to the rapid pace of technological innovation, IT, analytics, and programming jobs are in high demand.
  2. The average rate for machine learning engineers ranges from $80 to $125 per hour.
  3. The most in-demand skills for freelancers in the tech industry and marketing are exhibiting growth rates exceeding 120% year-over-year.

The Most Popular Freelancer Occupations

Freelancers can work in a variety of occupations, depending on their skills, expertise, and preferences. Some of the most popular freelancer occupations are those that require creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, as well as those that can be done remotely, flexibly, and efficiently.

Some of the statistics about the most popular freelancer occupations are:

  1. Freelancers make up 47% of the world’s workforce—with the global freelancer economy expected to reach $12.01 billion by 2028.
  2. The most popular freelance job titles were web developer, bookkeeper, project manager, virtual assistant, and customer service representative.
  3. The most searched-for freelance jobs were graphic designer, writer, photographer, web developer, and translator.

The Demographics of Freelance Workers

Freelance Market Statistics by Age Group

Freelance workers come from different age groups, ranging from young millennials and Gen Zers to older baby boomers and Gen Xers. Each age group has its own motivations, challenges, and preferences when it comes to freelancing, as well as its own contribution and impact on the freelance economy.

Age Distribution of Freelancers in the US in 2024:

  1. The majority of freelancers are heavily skewed toward younger ages, with almost 70% between the ages of 18-34.
  2. Half of all US Gen Zers (18 to 22-year-olds) participate in freelance work.
  3. The age group over 40 years represents 42% of the freelancer population.

Freelancing Full-Time vs Part-Time by Age in 2024:

  1. Younger freelancers (18-34 years old) are more likely to freelance full-time.
  2. Older freelancers (55 years or older) are more likely to freelance part-time.

Median Age of Freelancers in the US in 2024:

  1. The median age of full-time freelancers in the US is 38 years old.
  2. The median age of part-time freelancers in the US is over 40 years.

Gender Dynamics in the Freelance Community

Freelance workers are diverse in terms of gender, as well as other aspects of identity and background. However, there are still some gender disparities and inequalities in the freelance community, such as in terms of income, opportunities, and representation.

Gender Distribution of Freelancers in the US in 2024:

  1. The gender distribution of freelancers in the US in 2024 is as follows: 47.7% were male and 52.3% were female.

Average Income of Male and Female Freelancers in the US in 2024:

  1. The average income of freelancers in the US in 2024 is $22.11 per hour6. However, the income can vary significantly based on the field of work.

Gender Distribution of Freelancers Globally in 2024:

  1. The gender distribution of freelancers globally in 2024 is not explicitly mentioned in the sources. However, it’s noted that the share of female freelancers is more than that of male freelancers by approximately 5% in the United States.

Average Hourly Rate of Male and Female Freelancers Globally in 2024:

  1. The average hourly rate for freelancers globally in 2024 is not explicitly mentioned in the sources. However, it’s noted that the worldwide average freelancer earns $21 per hour.

The Economic Impact of Freelancing

Freelancing is not only a source of income for millions of workers but also a driver of economic growth and innovation. Freelancers contribute to the economy by creating value, generating revenue, paying taxes, and creating jobs.

Some of the statistics that illustrate the economic impact of freelancing are:

  1. Freelancers contributed $1.2 trillion to the US economy in 2019, representing 5.7% of the US GDP.
  2. Freelancers could contribute $2.3 trillion to the US economy by 2027, representing 8.6% of the US GDP.
  3. Freelancers spent $150 billion on non-payroll/contractor expenses in 2020, supporting an estimated 7 million jobs in the US.
  4. Freelancers in the US reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 3.6 million tons in 2019, equivalent to taking 600,000 cars off the road for a year.
  5. Freelancers in the US paid an estimated $21 billion in taxes in 2019, including income tax, self-employment tax, and sales tax.

Freelance Earnings

  1. The average hourly pay for a freelancer in the United States is $47.71.
  2. Freelancers in the United States earn an average hourly rate of $20.
  3. Freelancers working in web/mobile development, marketing, legal, accounting, and other skilled services earn an even higher $28/hour average wage.
  4. An average freelancer earns approximately $39,000 per year (pre-tax) and roughly $21 per hour, working around 36 hours weekly.
  5. The majority of freelance wages currently range between $24.28 (25th percentile) to $61.78 (75th percentile) across the United States.
  6. Freelancers working in web/mobile development, marketing, legal, accounting, and other skilled services can potentially earn up to $1 million annually.

Freelancing and Its Economic Contribution

Freelancing is not only a source of income for millions of workers but also a driver of economic growth and innovation. Freelancers contribute to the economy by creating value, generating revenue, paying taxes, and creating jobs.

Some of the statistics that illustrate the economic impact of freelancing are:

  1. Freelancers created an estimated 2.3 million jobs in the US in 2020 by hiring other freelancers or employees for their projects.
  2. Freelancers in the US generated an estimated $135 billion in revenue from clients outside the US in 2019, representing 11% of the US export of services.
  3. Freelancers in the US could generate $270 billion in revenue from clients outside the US by 2027, representing 18% of the US export of services.
  4. Freelancers in Asia received payments from 68 countries in 2019, with the US, UK, and Australia being the top three sources of income.
  5. Freelancers in Asia spent an average of 23% of their income on online purchases in 2019, contributing to the growth of e-commerce in the region.
  6. Freelancers in the US contributed to the growth of the gig economy in 2020 by spending an average of $6,920 on goods and services related to their freelance work.

The Global Freelance Platform Market

  1. The global freelance platform market is estimated to be worth $3.39 billion.
  2. Key Players: Platforms like Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk) connect millions of freelancers with client businesses across various domains, including software programming, graphic design, marketing, and mobile development. Upwork alone links 3.6 million client businesses with over nine million freelancers from 180 countries.
  3. Local Task Platforms: Platforms like TaskRabbit, Amazon Home Services, and Uber match customers with local contingent workers for specific tasks, from running errands to driving passengers.

The Future of Freelancing

Freelancing is not a static or stagnant industry but rather a dynamic and evolving one. Freelancing is constantly influenced by external factors, such as technology, economy, society, and environment, as well as internal factors, such as preferences, motivations, and expectations. Freelancing is also shaping and being shaped by these factors, creating new possibilities and challenges for the future.

Some of the future predictions for freelancing are:

  1. 75% of freelancers say that technology has made it easier to find freelance work, and 64% say that the amount of work they have obtained online has increased in the past year.
  2. It is projected that by 2025, 73% of all teams will have remote workers, and 36% of the workforce will be freelancing.
  3. 58% of freelancers say that they are very interested in the concept of a digital nomad lifestyle, where they can work from anywhere in the world.
  4. 50% of freelancers say that no amount of money would convince them to take a traditional job.
  5. 36% of freelancers say that they have multiple sources of income, compared to 23% of non-freelancers.
  6. 65% of freelancers say that they are more productive working from home, and 51% say that they have less stress.
  7. It is estimated that 27% of workers will be fully remote by the end of 2021, and 36% will be hybrid remote workers.
  8. 42% of the US workforce will consist of freelancers by the end of 2021, and 43% of the US population that can work will either try out or fully transition to freelancing by 2024.
  9. It is projected that by 2027, the majority of the US workforce will be freelancers and that freelancing will become the new normal.
  10. The top freelance skills that will continue to be highly sought after are web development, graphic design, content writing, digital marketing, and video editing.
  11. Top freelance trends that will shape the industry for the foreseeable future are remote work, online education, social media, e-commerce, and sustainability.

Predicted Freelancing Trends

  • Labor Force Participation: Freelancing platforms will boost labor force participation, addressing unemployment and underemployment globally.
  • Skills Gap: Organizations face skills gaps that limit service levels and business growth. Freelancers with specialized expertise can bridge these gaps.
  • Digital Transformation: The rise of freelancing is intertwined with digital transformation. Companies must adapt to remain competitive and innovative.

Technological Influence on Freelancing

Technology is one of the most significant factors that affects freelancing, both positively and negatively. Technology enables freelancing by providing platforms, tools, and resources that facilitate communication, collaboration, and transactions. Technology also challenges freelancing by creating competition, disruption, and uncertainty.

Some of the statistics that show how technology is impacting freelancing are:

  1. 77% of freelancers use online platforms to find work and 48% use online tools to manage their projects.
  2. 61% of freelancers use social media to market their skills and services, and 46% use online courses to update and enhance their skills.
  3. 62% of freelancers say that they are concerned about the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on their work, and 34% say that they have already experienced some effects of these technologies.
  4. 93% of freelancers with a four-year college degree say that skills training was useful, compared to only 79% who say that their college education was useful to the work they do now.
  5. 64% of professionals at the top of their industry are increasingly choosing to work independently.

FAQs: Freelance Statistics

How many full-time freelancers are there?

The global freelance workforce was estimated at 162 million in 2019, with projections to grow to 216 million by 2025. In the U.S., freelancers were expected to increase from 57.3 million in 2019 to 86.5 million by 2027.

What are the most common types of freelance work?

The most popular freelance occupations include web and graphic design, programming, writing, and translation, with web and graphic design being particularly prevalent.

What is the average income for a freelance worker?

According to Upwork’s research, freelancers in the United States earn an average hourly rate of $20. Those working in web/mobile development, marketing, legal, accounting, and other skilled services earn an even higher average wage of $28/hour. 60% of freelancers who left full-time jobs to become freelancers make more money than they did in their previous roles

What percentage of people are freelancers?

In the U.S., freelancers represent 38% of the workforce, contributing significantly to the economy and indicating a substantial portion of the labor market engaged in freelance work.

Should a small business hire freelancers?

Hiring freelancers can be advantageous for small businesses. Here’s why:

  • Cost-Effective: Freelancers allow businesses to access specialized skills without the overhead costs associated with full-time employees.
  • Flexibility: Small businesses can hire freelancers on a project-by-project basis, adapting to changing needs.
  • Expertise: Freelancers often bring niche expertise and fresh perspectives.
  • Scalability: Businesses can scale up or down quickly by engaging freelancers.
  • Reduced Administrative Burden: Freelancers handle their own taxes, insurance, and other administrative tasks.

What are the future trends for freelancing?

Future trends include growth in the freelance workforce, with an estimated increase to 216 million globally by 2025 and the expectation that freelancers could make up 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2027. This growth points to a more professional, skilled, and diverse freelance workforce worldwide.

How is technology impacting freelancing?

Technology is significantly reshaping the landscape of freelancing, making it more accessible, efficient, and diversified. Advances in digital platforms, communication tools, and project management software have streamlined the way freelancers find work, collaborate with clients, and manage projects. This technological evolution has not only expanded the gig economy but also enhanced the quality of work and productivity among freelancers.

  • Increased Accessibility: Online marketplaces and job boards make it easier for freelancers to find work opportunities globally, breaking geographical barriers.
  • Improved Communication: Tools like video conferencing, instant messaging, and cloud-based collaboration platforms facilitate seamless communication between freelancers and clients, regardless of their physical locations.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Project management and time-tracking software help freelancers organize tasks, meet deadlines, and manage their time more effectively.
  • Diverse Skill Development: Online courses and resources enable freelancers to quickly learn and adapt to new technologies, keeping their skills relevant in a rapidly changing market.
  • Portfolio and Reputation Building: Digital portfolios and social media platforms allow freelancers to showcase their work and build their reputation beyond traditional networks.
  • Automated Administrative Tasks: Automation tools for invoicing, scheduling, and client management reduce the time spent on non-billable tasks, allowing freelancers to focus more on their core work.
Impact AreaDescriptionBenefitsChallenges
Increased AccessibilityOnline platforms connect freelancers with global opportunities.- Broader job market
- Diverse projects
- Intense competition
- Market saturation
Improved CommunicationDigital tools facilitate real-time interaction and collaboration.- Clearer client-freelancer communication
- Efficient feedback loops
- Dependency on technology reliability
- Potential for miscommunication in text-based interactions
Enhanced ProductivityProject management software helps in task organization and deadline tracking.- Better time management
- Increased output
- Learning curve for new tools
- Over-reliance on software can hinder flexibility
Diverse Skill DevelopmentAccess to online learning resources enables skill enhancement.- Continuous learning
- Adaptability to new technologies
- Information overload
- Keeping pace with rapidly evolving tech skills
Portfolio and Reputation BuildingDigital portfolios and social media showcase work and expertise.- Wider visibility
- Attracts potential clients
- Constant need for content updating
- Managing online presence can be time-consuming
Automated Administrative TasksAutomation tools streamline invoicing, scheduling, and client management.- Reduced administrative workload
- More time for billable tasks
- Loss of personal touch in client interactions
- Dependence on software's accuracy

What are the statistics for female freelancers in the global freelance workforce?

In the U.S., the gender distribution among freelancers in 2024 was nearly even, with 47.7% male and 52.3% female, indicating a diverse and balanced freelance community in terms of gender.

How Can I Become a Successful Freelancer?

Becoming a successful freelancer requires a blend of skill development, strategic marketing, and effective client management. Firstly, it’s crucial to hone your expertise in a specific niche to stand out in a competitive market. Continuous learning and adapting to new trends and technologies within your field can also enhance your marketability. Building a strong online presence through a professional website and active social media profiles can help showcase your work and attract potential clients. Networking, both online and offline, is essential for finding new opportunities and building relationships. Effective communication and project management skills are key to maintaining client satisfaction and fostering long-term partnerships. Setting clear expectations, meeting deadlines, and delivering high-quality work consistently will help build a positive reputation. Additionally, managing your finances wisely, including setting competitive yet fair rates and saving for lean periods, is crucial for sustaining your freelancing career in the long run.

Are Freelance Platforms Free?

Freelance websites vary in their pricing models. While some offer free basic services, others charge fees for additional features. Here are the common types:

  • Free Platforms: Many freelance platforms allow freelancers to create profiles and bid on projects without any upfront costs.
    • Examples include Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru. These platforms offer free registration, profile setup, and basic job listings.
    • However, they often charge a percentage (usually around 10-20%) of the project fee when a freelancer successfully completes a job.
  • Freemium Models: Some platforms follow a freemium model. They provide basic services for free but offer premium features at a cost.
    • For instance, Fiverr allows freelancers to create free profiles, but they can purchase additional services like promoting their gigs or accessing analytics.
  • Paid Platforms: Certain platforms require upfront payment or subscription fees.
    • Toptal, known for high-quality talent, charges clients a fee for access to their curated pool of freelancers.
    • FlexJobs focuses on remote and flexible jobs and requires a subscription for full access.

Image: Envato Elements


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Samson Haileyesus Samson Haileyesus is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has several years of progressive experience in media, communication and PR working with government, NGOs and private sector.

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