At the beginning of October 2015, the Freelancers Union and Upwork released their second annual 2015 “Freelancing in America” study, which analyzes the freelancer population (in terms of size and segmentation) and looked at a range of topics in the freelancing sphere, including motivation, earnings, attitudes, and outlooks for the future. Here are some of the key points revealed in the study.

  • Freelancers are a critical sector of the U.S. workforce. According to the study, over a third of all US workers (almost 54 million Americans) have done freelance work in the past year, up 700,000 freelancers from 2014.
  • Freelancing is often a preference among workers. In fact, 60 percent of respondents said that it was their choice to become a freelancer, up 7 percentage points from 2014. Millennials have the largest percent of freelancers, at nearly 50 percent. Interestingly, half of those surveyed reported that they would not quit freelancing and go back to a traditional job, no matter how much it paid.
  • Freelancing offers an opportunity to make more money. Of those freelancers surveyed, the majority (60 percent) said they made more money freelancing, with 78 percent of those indicating that they earned more within a year or less.
  • Freelancers like freelancing.
  • Technology is playing a significant role in the growth of the freelance market. In the survey, 73 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that technology is making it easier to find freelance work (compared to 69 percent in 2014), and 51 percent reported that they had obtained a project online, up from 42 percent for last year.
  • Freelancers are positive about the future. The study found that 83 percent of freelancers believe that the future looks bright for the freelancing market, up from 77 percent in 2014. In addition, nearly half of all freelancers expect their income from freelancing to increase in the coming year (with only 11 percent expecting a decline).
  • There are five different segments of freelance workers. In the study, freelance workers were defined as “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project or contract-based work, within the past twelve months.” Freelancers were further segmented into independent contractors (with no employer), moonlighters (who also have a primary traditional job), diversified workers (with a mix of traditional employers and freelance work), temporary workers (those with a single impermanent employer), and freelance business owners (freelancers who also own a business and have one or more employees).


Freelancers Union & Upwork. “Freelancing in America: 2015.” 10/2/15.

Karpie, Andrew. “Upwork and Freelancers Union Release ‘Freelancing in America: 2015’ Study Results. 10/2/15.

King, Steve. “2015 Freelancing in America Study Released.” Small Business Labs. 10/6/15.