Freelancers are on the rise. And they’re rising up.
A new report from Freelancers Union and Upwork estimates that there are now 56.7 million Americans freelancers, an increase of 3.7 million in the past five years.
“The shift has really been enabled by technology,” says Freelancer Union director Caitlin Pearce. “Companies are increasingly looking for freelance labor because of the cost savings they represent and because of its efficiency as companies scale up and down their work.”
The report also found freelancers are getting increasingly political. More than seven in ten (72%) said they’d be willing to cross party lines to vote for candidates who support freelancer interests in the upcoming midterm election. But you’ll have to turn to another report to find out what exactly those interests are.
One suggestion: The freelancer marketplace Fiverr released a survey (pdf) this week outlining the political issues freelancers care about most. It comes as no surprise that healthcare was the number one issue for freelancers.
Compared to the general population, freelancers are much more likely to advocate for the Affordable Care Act (54% vs. 44%), a single-payer healthcare system (59% vs. 48%), and an increase in funding of healthcare for low-income Americans. Fiverr also found that most freelancers think the government should raise the minimum wage, support portable benefits that aren’t linked to full-time employment, and create more access to continued education resources.
Another interesting statistic form the Fiverr report: Some 70% of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months, compared with only 49% of full-time workers who are not freelancers. The difference makes sense; when you work for yourself, maintaining relevant skills may be the key to finding new work tomorrow.