In today’s economy, there is increasing competition between traditional jobs and independent contracting, otherwise known as freelancing or self-employment. Prior to the past decade or so, most workers favored traditional employment roles, leaving self-employment for those entrepreneur types who valued being their own boss. However, several trends in the workplace have slowly been posing challenges to traditional employer-employee paradigms, making independent work situations increasingly more attractive to many workers.

According to Small Business Labs, while the Great Recession led to more people working independently rather than in traditional roles out of necessity (due to the huge loss of jobs during those years), there were already factors in place prior to this that were helping independent employment gain traction in the economy, including benefit cuts alongside increased workloads and declining job security. Since the Recession, these trends have continued, driving continued growth of an already large independent workforce.

While the new 2015 MBO Partners “State of Independence” study reveals that the number of full-time independent workers or freelancers has flattened out over the past 2 years (although it has not declined), Small Business Labs stills points to a longer term trend driving a structural shift nationwide from a traditional to a more independent workforce. Some of the reasons for this are cited below:

  • Overall, companies are poised to continue to hire more contingent workers.
  • Self-employment or freelancing is appealing for aging boomers and those in the millennial generation (who tend to like more freedom).
  • Persistently increasing health costs will continue to drive companies to cut benefits for traditional workers.
  • The intensely competitive and ever evolving nature of the current economy will continue to threaten job stability and security in traditional markets.
  • Many will be attracted to self-employment due to the autonomy, control, and flexibility it offers, not to mention the idea of being one’s own boss.
  • A maturing self-employment market will continue to enable people to do work they enjoy while still being able to pursue their passions.


King, Steve. “The Competition between Traditional Jobs and Freelancing.” Small Business Labs. 9/15/15.

MBO Partners. “State of Independence: The Independent Workforce and America’s New Economy.” 2015.