U.S. Freelancers

Proof Point

Freelancers in the U.S. grew 1.7% yearly from 53 million in 2014 to 56.7 million in 2018, according to Upwork study

U.S. Freelancers

2014 – 2018F (millions of individuals and percentage of U.S. workforce)

Note: Data from Upwork’s 2018 Freelancing in America; results were collected from United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017 Labor Force Statistics and Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.

Proof Point Findings

  • Freelancers – Self-employed segment of U.S. labor force, working with clients on contractual or temporary basis
  • U.S. Gig Economy – Upwork and Freelancers Union estimated U.S. freelance economy growth at 1.7% annually between 2014 and 2018, making up 35% of workforce or 56.7 million Americans in 2018, but declined slightly from 2017
  • 2017 Five-Year Peak – Highest figure for five-year period was in 2017, with 57.3 million freelancers, made up of three types, namely with income coming from both traditional employers and freelance work (35%), traditional full-time freelancers (31%), and people with fixed, regular employment who also do freelance jobs, or moonlighters (23%)
  • Key Drivers – Include proliferation of cloud-based freelance platforms (e.g. Upwork, Fiverr, 99 Designs) and crowd-based apps (e.g. Uber, YourMechanic, uShip), increasing dependence of companies on external staff, and intangible freelancing benefits, such as time and location flexibility, as well as work variety


Market Disruption




Date Last Updated

March 27, 2019

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