America is known as the land of opportunity, and for more than 40 million people, that means pursuing work that offers freedom and fulfillment. These workers are described as contractors, freelancers, gig workers, consultants and the self-employed. One term encompassing all of these groups is the independent worker. The independent workforce in the United States is a diverse group that spans a wide range of ages, skill levels and compensation. What they all share is an intense desire for independence. This is not a group to be ignored or underestimated. A robust, growing and evolving segment, the independent workforce is a powerful economic group, generating $1.28 trillion of revenue for the U.S. economy in 2018. According to recent research, this group will increase to 47.2 million people over the next five years, representing a 2.8% annual growth rate. Over time, this dramatic shift in the labor market has left gaps in insurance and benefits typically provided by traditional employment-based organizations. It’s time to sit up, take notice and finally give this all-important group the recognition and support that they deserve.
The MBO Partners State of Independence report presents an annual snapshot of the independent workforce. This year, the ninth annual report revealed five key trends:
Independents pump up the economy: independent workers contributed $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy this year—close to the total GDP of Spain!Independent workers feel more financially
Secure: more than half of full-time independent workers say they feel more financially stable as independents than in traditional jobs—a record high. Seven in ten full-time independents say they plan to continue their current path.
More Americans are pursuing side hustles: more Americans are taking up a side hustle to supplement their income. In 2019, this group increased by 6.3% to 15 million and that number is up more than 40% since 2016.
Millennials are displacing Baby Boomers: in 2019, Millennials made up 38% of the full-time independent workforce, up from 37% last year. Baby Boomers fell from 35% to 33%.
Technology is a key driver: nearly one in three independent workers say that social media and online talent marketplaces are among their top three methods to find work.
National Independent Worker Day
In order to celebrate the tens of millions of freelancers, contractors, consultants and small business owners in America, the Association of Independent Workers (iPSE-U.S.) established August 16 as the first National Independent Worker Day. iPSE-U.S. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the freedom of America’s independent workers by giving them an equal voice in public policy and equal access to benefits. Carl Camden, Founder and President of iPSE-U.S., says,
"we have spent the last 75 years building our social institutions and benefit structures around the premise that everyone works in a traditional W-2 'job,' leaving independent workers without the protections most full-time employees take for granted. Without a unified political voice, they face complicated tax schemes and lack access to workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, employer-sponsored health care, disability and retirement plans to protect their families and their finances. We will represent independent workers to advocate for policy reform that reflects the modern world of work.”
America’s independent workforce should have the freedom to pursue their chosen career path without obstacles or limits. It’s time to celebrate their contribution to our nation and remind all independent workers that they are significant and have a voice.