55 million ways to leave your day job

Oct 11, 2016

The third annual Freelancing in America Report is out and, according to our data, the freelance workforce has grown to a staggering 55 million. That's 35% of the national workforce!

Our study recognizes workers in five different categories – Independent Contractors (35%), Diversified Workers (28%), Moonlighters (25%), Freelance Business Owners (7%), Temporary (7%) – as part of that vast network of independents we call "Freelance Nation." There's still some disputes over how to categorize the freelance workforce, but we selected these categories because all of these workers share the same set of problems: episodic income, little access to employer-driven benefits like health care and retirement funds, and disproportionately steep tax rates.

Not only does defining the freelancers in this way bring these key issues to the fore, it also highlights the tremendous diversity among freelance workers. Freelancers can be found in any industry and in every neighborhood.

Now, in the third year of our study, we're seeing an upward trend of people choosing to freelance – rather than getting pushed into contract work because of an unstable jobs economy. 79% of freelancers say that working for themselves is better than working at a traditional job and "being my own boss" is the number one reason people go freelance. Finally, full-time freelancers report feeling more positively about their work than employees.

To those hearing the siren song of freelancing, all of this data sounds like pretty great news! But how to make the leap?

According to our report, there are 55 million ways to leave your day job – or at least start bringing in income on the side. Many of our members have shared advice for getting started right here on the blog – you can also find guides for taxes, health insurance, and contract terms in our resource section.

Most importantly, as a member of Freelance Nation, we have a duty to ourselves and to each other to work together to find solutions to the #freelanceproblems we share. Join Freelancers Union today and start making the future of freelance better for all.

"The problem is all inside your head
she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be 55 million ways to leave your day job."

  • Paul "the freelancer" Simon

Laura Murphy

A new soul and media geek, Laura writes about community, poetry and pop culture.