The Freelancers Union and Elance - oDesk released a study showing that 34% of the American workforce freelances in some form.
According to the study, 53 million Americans said they engaged in some form of freelance work in the past year. The study breaks these folks into 5 segments:
- "Independent Contractors" (40%, or 21.1 million) don’t have a traditional employer and do freelance, temporary or supplemental work on a project-to-project basis.
- “Moonlighters” (27 percent, or 14.3 million workers) have a primary, traditional job but also moonlight doing freelance work.
- “Diversified workers” (18 percent, or 9.3 million workers) are people with multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional employers and freelance work.
- “Temporary workers" (10 percent, or 5.5 million workers) are individuals with a single employer, client, job or contract project where their status is temporary.
- “Freelance business owners” (5 percent, or 2.8 million workers) are business owners with between one and five employees who consider themselves both a freelancer and a business owner.
In addition to the report, there's a very nice study presentation with more details available on Slideshare.
Back in 2010 in partnership with Intuit we released a forecast saying by 2020 40% of the U.S. private, non-farm workforce would be made of up contingent workers. The Freelancers Union study makes it clear we are on track to hit this forecast.