Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Free Lancing

Freelancing, or the gig economy as it’s referred to, has been seen to gain momentum over these past few months in the age of the “new normal.” According to a new study from Upwork, a freelance job platform, two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, increasing the proportion of freelance workers to 36%.

During the booming job market before the pandemic, many workers chose freelance or contract jobs because they preferred the flexibility and variety it offered. The freelance economy was enormous before the pandemic, and it’s growing larger still. Upwork says it now contributes $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy — 22% more than in 2019. And an Upwork study claims that 60% of post-COVID-19 freelancers say no amount of money would convince them to take a traditional job

But now there’s evidence that many workers are turning to freelance out of necessity, not by choice. “Freelancing is feast or famine. So it comes in waves. And I know at some point there will be less of it. So I’m looking at what to do and how to make it work as a business,” says Diana Gill, a former Editor of New York publishing house and now, a freelancer.

“The flexibility and remote-focused nature of freelancing is really on display right now,” says Adam Ozemik, chief economist of Upwork. “That flexibility is precious to workers and clients.”

The article recently published by Forbes highlights several points regarding this freelancing economy. They are;

Revenue generation:

75% of those who quit a regular job to freelance say they earn the same or more than they did. Among freelancers surveyed, 61% said they have the amount of work they want or more. And many are freelancing more frequently and serving more clients than last year.

Gen-Z’s eye: 

Half of the Gen-Z workforce—those ages 18 to 22—has freelanced in the past year, and among them, more than one third (36%) started since the COVID-19 pandemic. The new freelancers are younger, more educated and doing skilled work” says Ozemik.

Opportunities: 

According to the survey, 12% of the U.S. workforce started freelancing in the wake of COVID-19. Many of these new freelancers are skilled professionals, and they tend to be part of industries such as technology. For some, Freelancing is a job-replacement.

Change in Lifestyle:

Freelancers reported a lower rate of disruption to their overall lifestyle, wellbeing, mental health, and financial wellbeing from the pandemic than other workers. Some have advised their clients on how to work remotely.

Some freelancers are hurting: 

The research found that 10% of the U.S. workforce “paused” Freelancing, as opportunities dried up in the pandemic. Many were in industries affected most by social distancing, working in non-remote situations. Even though some freelancers could not work remotely, many landed on their feet, with 51% of these “paused” freelancers relying on other sources of work. Among such “paused” freelancers, 88% said they are likely to try freelancing again in the future.

Pre-retirement career:

Freelancers ages 55 and up to make up 25% of all freelancers, the research found. They are concentrated in skilled and project-based work. Among these freelancers, 65% see it as an excellent way to transition to retirement.

 Advantage of flexibility:

48% of freelancers said they are caregivers, and 33% have a disability in their household. “The flexibility it provides allows them to fit work into days that work for them,” says Ozimek. “If you don’t know exactly when you can work, freelancing provides flexibility.”

Even though Freelancers are working to suffice and not out of choice, the gig economy does seem to have added benefits for the people. With time as an indispensable tool in hand, it is of certainty that the new economy is here to stay.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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