Have you ever thought about becoming a freelancer yourself? You’re probably a bit intrigued by the opportunity. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be looking at our freelance statistics for the year 2021! We dare say you’re in the right place, as you’re about to find out how many freelancers there are, the best freelance careers for you, and whether Upwork is as good as they say. Also, how much freelancing work you should invest.
Being a freelancer has plenty of perks. For starters, you’re your own boss. Only you get to decide on your working hours (but you’ll see they aren’t scarce). You can work from home, even from another country, if you’re keen on becoming a nomad.
Here is a brief outline of what awaits you in the article:
Top 10 Most Intriguing Freelance Statistics for 2021
- The majority of the US workforce will be freelance by 2027.
- The three largest freelance platforms in the world are Freelancer.com, Upwork, and Fiverr.
- A skilled freelancer earns more than 70% of US workers
- The best countries for freelancers are the US, the UK, Brazil, Pakistan, Ukraine, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Russia, and Serbia (in this order).
- Estimated at about $1.2 trillion, freelancing income is getting close to 5% of the US GDP.
- 60% of freelancers claim their freelance career was a choice, not a necessity.
- Upwork freelancer statistics confirm about 57 million Americans are involved in some kind of freelance work.
- 44% of freelancers got crossed at least once in their career.
- About 50% of freelance workers work 30 to 50 hours per week.
- 79% of full-time working freelancers say a flexible schedule is the number one reason for choosing this career.
That’s right; we didn’t see some of these coming either. Go on and take a closer look!
Freelance Workforce Statistics
What are some basic statistics and facts concerning the freelance world?
1. The majority of the US workforce will be freelance by 2027.
The prediction mostly relies on generations Y and Z to be the main workforce on the freelance market, especially since 47% of Millennials freelance in some way already (and spend the hard earned cash too).
It’s not just the possibility of staying at home and being independent. The 2008 recession clearly showed you can’t always rely on large corporations for a safe career.
2. Freelance statistics UK data shows there were 2.2 million freelancers in the country in 2020.
1.9 million freelancers in the UK said freelancing was their primary source of employment. The number represents a 1% increase in freelancers from 2019.
However, given the overall drop in solo-employed residents, it represents a 3% increase in the number of freelancers in proportion to the population.
3. How many freelancers are there in the US in 2019? Well, about 57 million Americans are involved in some kind of freelance work.
“Freelancing in America” (FIA) research reports that generation Z has the largest number of freelance workers, contributing to the freelance community with 53% of the population.
On the other hand, only 29% and 31% of Baby Boomers and Generation X do freelance work, respectively.
4. Freelance statistics from Europe show that it’s the fastest-growing part of the European labor force.
Many leading European economies have seen sharp increases in freelance labor. France’s freelance workforce has increased by an astonishing 92% since 2009. Right now, there are over 1.02 million French freelancing.
Spain’s freelance workforce saw a lower, but no less-impressive, increase of 40% since 2009 to a total of 753,000 workers.
5. Is Upwork worth it? Freelance statistics on jobs say the three largest freelance platforms in the world are: Freelancer.com, Upwork, and Fiverr.
(Website Planet) (Business Trumpet) (SEC)
Freelancer.com has over 50 million registered users, while Upwork used to boasts just over half as much (18 million).
Conversely, Fiverr doesn’t reveal exact numbers but states that the platform facilitated over 50 million transactions between 5.5 million service buyers and 830,000 sellers.
6. Statistics on the demographics of freelancers in the US show that 59% are male.
Additionally, most freelancers in the United States (63.3%) are 34 years old or younger. 39% of all freelancing workforce in the US is younger than 24.
The younger freelance workforce is mostly male, while female freelancers make up a larger portion of the workforce as the age increases.
7. According to freelance statistics for 2019, the best countries for freelancers are the US, the UK, Brazil, Pakistan, Ukraine, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Russia, and Serbia (in this order).
These countries are getting big bucks from the freelancer economy. The earnings in the US in 2019 increased by a staggering 78% compared to the earnings in 2018 for Q2. This is the largest boost in the world!
Similarly, the UK had a YOY growth of 59%, and Brazil ranks third with 48%.
Serbia, a small European country, seems to be an interesting IT market as outsourcing statistics report revenue that surpassed the $1 billion mark.
8. 30% of freelancers are web and graphic designers, representing the largest part of the workforce, as reported by freelancer statistics for 2020.
As for the remaining best freelance careers, programmers take second place with 19% of them belonging to the budding freelance world. IT specialists come third, with 10% of them preferring to be their own bosses.
9. Around 70% of Pakistani freelancers are younger than 30.
On the other hand, US freelance professionals are of various ages. The majority are between 25 and 34 years old, whereas 27% of them are 35–44 years old. Moreover, 13% of US freelancers are older than 55.
10. Freelance writing statistics estimate content writers make up 8% of all freelancers.
All this content on the internet doesn’t write itself, you know — hence why writers now have more work cut out for them than ever before, or at the very least have more opportunities to become known globally. Project managers, who are often in charge of writers, choose a regular job instead as only 1% of them are freelance workers.
Multimedia artists employ their creativity as much as writers, meaning that 8% of them freelance too.
11. 1 in 10 Toronto workers is a freelancer, recent Canadian freelance statistics reveal.
(The Star) (Statistics Canada)
Gig economy stats show that the largest number of self-employed workers (freelancers included) in 2018 was located in British Columbia, and they made 15% of the overall workforce.
At the moment, there are probably more than 2.9 million self-employed Canadians. What’s more, scientific and technical service workers are on the rise, while agriculture rates have fallen.
Freelance Economy Statistics: How Much Can You Earn?
The following stats and facts provide the answer to one of the most important questions: does it pay off to freelance in 2021?
12. Freelancers should always ask for 50% upfront as collateral.
Experts say a 50% non-refundable deposit is a must for any project, regardless of the client. That way, the percentage of stiffed freelancers would probably diminish (at the very least).
13. Estimated at about $1.2 trillion, freelance income is getting close to 5% of the US GDP.
Freelancers are a force to be reckoned with. Judging by the figures provided by freelancer statistics, they are overtaking some of the major industries (transportation and construction included).
Annual earnings by freelancers increased by 22% from 2019, largely driven by young skilled professionals looking for alternatives to jobs lost or compromised in the pandemic.
14. “Freelancing in America: 2019” study confirms a skilled freelancer earns more than 70% of US workers.
That’s right; experienced freelancers have a median rate of $28 per hour, more than the rest of the US workforce.
15. Germany is a promising market for an IT freelancer.
Time is money, and if you are wasting yours, then you’re losing cash for no good reason. Just last year, in November, Germany was in dire need of 124,000 IT specialists (a 51% increase since 2018).
We expect the trend to continue in 2020 as well.
Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway — countries with the highest standards of living in the world — are also looking for IT professionals. So, there’s your chance.
Are Freelancers Happier?
An idea of happiness tends to vary, but generally, satisfaction or dissatisfaction always shows. Here is how freelancers feel about their work and life balance.
16. 79% of full-time working freelancers say a flexible schedule is the number one reason for choosing this career.
That’s right; freelancing can be a full-time job solely responsible for your personal finances. The second reason for working from home is the lovely feeling of being your own boss.
Spending more time with the family was the least cited reason.
17. The average salary for freelancers in the US is $67,169, according to the most recent freelancer statistics.
The average freelancer makes well above the median income but falls short of the national average.
The most generous state for freelancers seems to be California. Three of the top ten cities in terms of freelancer pay are in California.
And if you’re looking to get into a freelancing career, the most lucrative options are freelance clinical project manager, architect, and project manager.
18. Over 60% of freelancers believe society underestimates them, freelance statistics reveal.
(The Slash Workers)
Admittedly, freelancing and working from home are relatively new notions, so it will take some time for society to respect them as much as the “hardworking” nine-to-five workers.
19. Freelancing trends from 2020 show that 58% of “regular” workers that had to start working remotely are considering freelancing in the future.
By most accounts, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated what was already a growing trend in freelance statistics of choosing remote work over traditional employment.
Upwork’s CEO stated that both skilled professionals and the companies hiring them benefitted in many ways from the large-scale adoption of freelance work.
20. 60% of freelancers claim their freelance career was a choice, not a necessity.
(Upwork) (The Balance Careers)
In addition, freelancing statistics are fairly optimistic since 77% of full-time freelancers found their work-life balance improved due to their career change.
21. The freelance platforms market will reach $5,026.3 million by 2025.
As the freelance market size grows, freelancing platforms are growing right along with it. Researchers expect to see a 15.9% CAGR through 2025, which represents an increase of over $2.2 billion.
The report included research into the leading freelancing platforms, including Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and PeoplePerHour. But it also looked at smaller up-and-comers like TaskRabbit, Gigster, and Toptal.
22. Worrisome freelance statistics: 44% of freelancers got crossed at least once in their career.
(The Slash Workers)
It’s not all roses when you’re a freelancer. In a recent survey, the majority (44%) stated that it occurred due to them (freelancers) not being taken seriously, yet 35% believe it wouldn’t have happened if they had had better contracts.
How Much Do Freelancers Work?
Is it true that freelancers work less but get paid more?
23. About 50% of freelance workers work 30 to 50 hours per week.
22% have a working week of 20 hours or less. Conversely, 10% of freelancers work over 60 hours.
The most diligent workers are employed as finance, management, or HR professionals.
Freelance lawyer stats reveal freelance legal service providers work the least (33.6 hours on average).
24. Software consultant is the highest paying freelance job — $92,219 a year.
If you’re looking for high-paying freelance jobs, statistics show that a software consultant is your best bet. Other big-paycheck freelance positions include:
- financial consultant – $83,487 per year
- web developer – $78,367 per year; and
- videographer – $77.008 per year.
25. 4 out of 5 freelancers work on up to three projects simultaneously.
While it is true that freelancers are very much satisfied with their jobs, they tend to multitask a lot. That may be because frauds are not uncommon, and job offers are not always predictable.
How many freelancers are there in the world?
Tens of millions, but the exact number is hard to establish. First of all, it keeps rising at an incredible pace. Secondly, since they are freelancers, it is hard to keep track of all of them (at once). Not all freelancers are full-time workers, and some do go back to traditional jobs.
If we take a look at the above-mentioned stat, there are 57 million freelancers in the US, yet Europe contributes to the freelance economy the most. If we compare the overall percentage (35.5%) and the general population (513 million), we would get roughly 179.7 million freelancers in the EU.
What percentage of the workforce is freelance?
In the US, the figure in question is 35%. Europe has a slight lead with 35.5%. Canada’s self-employed workforce is supposed to be over 15%, whereas, in the UK, 6% of the entire workforce is currently freelancing.
In the years to come, we can expect even higher figures. Some estimates go as far as to predict that there will be 90.1 million freelancers in the US by 2028.
Are freelancers happier?
What is happiness, after all? How can we define it? Well, perhaps with the following numbers in one survey:
- 86% of freelancers do so by choice
- 84% claim having realized the “real purpose”, i.e. reason for working
- 97% rate their job satisfaction more highly than traditional workers.
Taking this into consideration and the above-mentioned statistics, we can deduce that they are quite satisfied with their life choice and therefore, happier than the regular workforce.
How many freelancers were there in the US in 2020?
Reports indicate that around 59 million Americans freelanced at some point in 2020. That’s around 36% of the entire workforce!
If current estimates are correct, there will be 90.1 million freelancers in the US by 2028, which means most of the workforce in the US could be freelancing soon.
Is freelancing the future?
If by that we mean that more people will turn to freelancing, then the answer is yes. However, it’s unlikely that freelancing will completely replace traditional employment entirely anytime soon. Admittedly, there’s no denying that an increasing number of people see it as a viable alternative.
Freelancing helps employers manage wages better and helps freelancers diversify their employment to increase job security. There are definitely drawbacks to freelancing, but the freelancing statistics in this list show that it’s a rising force you should take seriously.
So, how do you like the freelancer economy thus far? You have to agree that freelancing has a lot of perks, especially online freelancing. If anything, it helps you get better prepared for unpredictable turns of events — such as sudden layoffs or a force majeure (which we all witnessed with the coronavirus outbreak).
To sum up, freelance statistics are constantly being updated as more and more people turn to freelancing as their primary source of income. They work hard too, which is clearly indicated by their number of working hours. Loneliness is a major issue. Yet, good salaries, and above all, the sense of freedom, make up for it. A freelance worker is a happy worker indeed.