The Pandemic Is Making More People Consider Freelancing: Study

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There are nearly 60 million freelancers in the United States alone, and that number is only growing. If you’re an employee that went remote due to COVID and is now thinking about freelancing, you’re not alone. Studies are already predicting a surge in demand for freelancing in the next few years, so it’s only natural that more people would consider it. But the pandemic alone is the driver for a lot of people to consider switching out the traditional workforce and into freelancing. 

According to a new Upwork study, 58% of people that went remote due to COVID are now considering freelancing. “It’s no surprise that freelancing is on the rise, especially now that we have fully disentangled ‘where’ we work from ‘what’ we work on,” said Hayden Brown, President and CEO of Upwork, in a press release. “Amid all of the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, the data shows that independent professionals are benefiting from income diversification, schedule flexibility, and increased productivity. 

Adam Ozimek, Upwork Chief Economist, added that the shift makes sense, saying, “To adapt to the changes and uncertainty of COVID-19, we saw many professionals enter the freelance workforce for the first time.”

Not all ages love freelancing

When it comes to who prefers freelancing, it seems to be an age game. While 50% of Gen-Z survey respondents chose freelancing, only 44% of Millennials, 30% of Gen X, and 26% of Boomers did. That said, all ages like the flexibility that freelancing provides.

more people are willing to consider freelancing for flexibility and money
Source: Upwork Freelance Forward

Despite older generations not choosing freelancing as much, it doesn’t mean they don’t like it. The study found that people 55+ use freelancing as a way to balance their financial needs as they get older. Similarly, 65% of Boomers say that freelancing is a great way to transition into retirement. 

COVID is driving freelance success

While the pandemic has brought significant job losses, 2020 has been a relatively good year for freelancers. According to the report, freelancers report far lower negative impact from the pandemic, suggesting that freelancing is more resilient than many traditional jobs. As well, freelancers have more clients – 58% had more than 5 clients in the past six months, up 3 percentage points from 2019.

The other side of the pandemic is the people who became freelancers during it. While this makes up only 12% of the overall freelancing population, they are strong proponents of freelancing in the future. 48% say they already see freelancing as a full-time and long-term career opportunity. Further, 60% say no amount of money would get them back into the traditional job market because they value the other benefits of freelancing too much. 

Freelancers also overwhelmingly report good financial returns, with 75% saying they make the same or more money than they did in a traditional job. And while the world debates how good (or bad) things will be in the future and despite the pitfalls of freelancing, a significant majority (86%) say that the best days of freelancing are ahead. 

READ NEXT: What a Joe Biden Presidency Means for Freelancers.