The focus of the study was to figure out how many independent workers (freelancers, temps, solopreneurs, independent consultants, etc.) there are in the U.S. and to profile independent workers to better understand their attitudes, reasons for being independent and their satisfaction levels.
The study consisted of two national, statistically significant surveys as well as several focus groups and dozens of one-on-one interviews with independent workers.
Key findings include:
- The independent workforce grew from 16 million in 2011 to 16.9 million in 2012
- 71% of the respondents reported having a high level of satisfaction with independent work
- 12% of independent workers plan to grow their businesses and add employees
- Only 13% of independent workers plan on returning to traditional employment
- The median earnings for independent workers is about $51,000 and roughly 2.2 million independents earn more than $100,000 per year.
Compared with 2011, satisfaction was up, concerns about the challenges of being independent (lack of consistent income, job security, lack of benefits, etc.) were down and the number of people who currently weren't independent but expressed interest in becoming independent was about the same (27 million vs. 28 million in 2011).
We'll have much more on the study in coming weeks. This year we over-sampled Gen Y (ages 21-32) independents and Mature (aged 67+) independents. Both groups are quite interesting and we will be releasing research briefs on these cohorts later this year.