The 2018 midterm elections are almost upon us in the United States (don’t forget to vote!), and while all politics may be local, the decisions made around policies will surely impact freelancers across the country. With so many important issues up for debate throughout the election season, we at Fiverr want to understand which issues were most important for freelancers and how the growing community of independent knowledge workers felt about those key issues.
As a coalition of independent workers, freelancers are uniquely positioned in the American economy and policy agenda. They don’t benefit from many of the protections offered to traditional workers often including healthcare and disability. They have a professional need to remain up-to-date and “in the know” on the latest technology, trends or skills in order to remain good candidates for new work. They work for themselves and can choose what kind of jobs to take, but they remain vulnerable to issues like sexual harassment or non-payment.
These issues were at the heart of more than 1,000 freelancers surveyed across the United States, and five major issue sets were revealed in our Freelance Political Perspective Report.
Some of the key takeaways about where freelancers stand a week prior to the 2018 midterm election:
Healthcare is the #1 issue for freelancers.
Freelancers listed healthcare as their number one priority, edging out immigration and the economy as the biggest issue impacting the country. According to our study, freelancers are much more likely to advocate for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (54 percent vs. 44 percent), a single-payer health care system (59 percent vs. 48 percent) and increased funding of health care for low-income individuals than the general population (75 percent vs. 58 percent). Our findings point to freelancers favoring a system where healthcare is accessible and affordable regardless of employment arrangements.
There needs to be progress on portable benefits.
The traditional relationship between employers and employees is diminishing slowly as the number of independent workers continues to rise and play a larger economic role in the U.S. The economic shifts that have created opportunities for more freelancers have also driven interest in portable benefits, with 80 percent of freelancers surveyed stating they do not think the government is doing enough to support flexible working with portable benefits. Illustrating a constantly evolving professional identity, 85 percent of freelancers say it is important to keep/extend benefits without them being tied to a job.
Create better-paying jobs in the U.S., and create a more progressive tax system.
Freelancers, more than the general adult population, support reforms that provide tax breaks to individual companies in order to keep jobs in the U.S. (75 percent vs. 56 percent), raising taxes on the rich (75 percent vs. 52 percent), and raising the federal minimum wage (74 percent vs. 56 percent). Freelancers expect elected officials to promote policies and practices that support workers and the American labor force, all while expecting more from the rich.
Do more to prevent sexual harassment and promote gender equality.
The problem of sexual harassment can be especially present for freelancers, who lack some of the basic protections afforded to traditional employees. It’s no wonder that it was a widely recognized problem and area freelance respondents want improvement, with 63 percent of freelancers stating they were not happy about the progress and feel the government is not doing enough to curb sexual harassment. Furthermore, 3-in-4 freelancers say the government should be doing more to improve workplace equality, especially for women.
Create more access to continued education opportunities.
All freelancers know they’re only as good as their skillsets. That’s why 67 percent of freelancers surveyed say continued education is important. But despite recognizing the importance, only 1-in-4 are accessing public resources like community colleges and higher education. The disconnect between importance and actual use showcases a shortcoming and an opportunity for policymakers (and companies like Fiverr), as many freelancers see value in continuing education, but few are accessing it.
There is a wide variety of issues candidates are addressing in the lead up to the election, all of which impact their constituencies in one way or another. But with freelancers making up 40 percent of the workforce with the promise of growth, policy leaders will need to increasingly focus on the issues that are of importance to specialized independent workers.
Freelancers, which issues are your top priorities? Let us know in the comments below—and don’t forget to vote next Tuesday, 11/6.