Now in its fourth year, our annual Freelancing in America study (PDF) shows what many freelancers know intuitively: The freelance workforce is growing rapidly and adapting quickly in a fast-changing economy.

In fact, freelancers are growing so fast as a share of the overall workforce that we’re projecting independent workers will be a majority of the U.S. workforce in just a decade. America’s 57.3 million freelancers contribute $1.4 trillion to the economy, an increase of almost 30% from the previous year.

Freelancers are navigating this new economy by adapting, learning, and re-tooling. The entire workforce is being transformed by automation and artificial intelligence, but freelancers are more aware of these changes and are much more likely to have taken steps to proactively update their skills.

Policy makers have not been as quick to adapt. Freelancers want a voice, and a large majority of freelancers would be willing to cross party lines if a candidate supported their interests.

Freelancers, like all workers, are experiencing challenges with debt, saving, and accessing affordable benefits. But freelancers are uniquely challenged by income predictability. They are looking for choice and portability when it comes to benefits -- and they don’t want it to be tied to a single employer.

But more and more people are opting in to the freedom and independence of the freelance life. As the stability of working for a traditional 9-5 employer has started to wane, freelancers are embracing a new way of working - and they see more stability in having diverse income streams.

The world of work is changing, and freelancers are at the heart of our new economy. As the workforce experiences challenges like never before, it’s up to use to envision and build a new support system to make sure independent workers are able to thrive.

Sara

Read the report here (PDF) and here is a press release with our partners at Upwork. You can also see the full results deck here.