Freelancers Multiply as Economy Struggles
BOSTON (MainStreet) -- Throughout the jobs crisis, as unemployment rates peaked in the double digits, there was one area of growing demand: freelancers. And the ranks of the self-employed are growing.
It's a good-news, bad-news situation, however. For "free agents," working for themselves rather than for a boss, there is more work available. But those opportunities come as cost-cutting companies trim payrolls and turn to part-time and contract workers to trim payroll taxes, reduce health care costs and cut other bottom-line-eroding benefits a full-time workforce requires.
|'Free agents' could eventually outnumber the traditional workforce, one study claims.|
According to estimates by Kelly Services(KELYA) , an outsourcing and staffing firm that provides temporary employment to 550,000 workers annually, roughly 44% of the active workforce last year were freelancers, a 70% spike since 2008.
By the year 2020, research by MBO Partners, a leader in the $250-billion-and-growing independent consulting sector in the U.S., predicts that will be 70 million people -- more than 50% of the private workforce (which includes freelancers, independent contractors and so-called solopreneurs, independent professionals launching businesses-of-one). That shift will begin to "accelerate in 2012 as both individuals and organizations embrace new models of work," it says.
"Freelancing -- once a euphemism for unemployment -- has grown to be a dominant force in the economy, with 42 million independent workers -- more than the total number of autoworkers, teachers, and doctors combined -- driving the U.S. economy," offers a statement issued by the Freelancers Union, a 170,000-member trade organization based in New York City.