America's future will be freelance. Or at least, that's what the futurists believe. They say that one day, the U.S. will be a free-agent nation with people offering their services independently.
The concept of working as a full-time employee will become less and less. And while this is just a prediction, there were significant signs of acceleration towards this reality after COVID-19 hit.
What experts thought would happen over three years occurred in just three months. For example, the temporary job postings rose from 24% to 34% almost immediately when the pandemic started.
The share of temp job postings for communications pre-pandemic was only 12%. Then it was 4x higher after. Temp marketing jobs accelerated from 8% to 28%. And even HR jobs converted into freelance positions.
So, the question we have to ask is how is this going to affect future work? Let's take a look at how COVID transformed the employment landscape and what the future may hold.
It happened quickly — millions of people were furloughed, some never to return to their past positions. By late May, over 40 million Americans were unemployed. With millions more adding to those numbers each week.
There was no time to grieve or panic, so people turned to freelance gigs to survive. And this seemed to be the trend — employees becoming freelancers out of necessity. Because of this, we saw two million Americans enter the freelancing field (a 36% increase).
And it was like this across the world. Just look at these numbers from Payoneer showing the top countries with the highest freelance growth:
America didn't make it to the list, which shows how drastic other nations are shifting towards freelance work.
With more people taking on the freelance title, it makes sense that employers would follow suit. Companies needed a way to transition during lockdowns without hurting productivity and revenue. They also had to cut costs to ensure survival.
One survey shows 45% of hiring managers expected freezes on new staff hiring. Yet, 73% were looking to maintain or expand their hiring of independent professionals. Some even speculate that the remote work transition would have long-term implications for how managers hire in the future.
This is possible, especially as more people become accustomed to working remotely. Employers are embracing remote work, so their way of recruiting will alter since they won't be tied to local labor markets. Finding skilled talent will become easier with the broader pool of options.
According to one report, freelance job openings increased by more than 25% between April and June 2020. The shift is likely caused by more companies reevaluating their budgets and opting for a flexible (and agile) workforce. By the second quarter of 2020, freelance job postings grew by 41% (compared to 2019).
Then according to the UN's International Labour Organization, the number of working hours lost during the second quarter of 2020 was equivalent to 400 million full-time jobs. Those that shifted to freelance had an opportunity to make up for the loss.
Here's a look at some of the fastest-growing freelance jobs:
As we enter into the post-pandemic era, we're seeing falling unemployment and a continued rise in remote and freelance work. In January 2021, American temp jobs increased by nearly 81,000.
Reports also show employers are realizing the benefits of using contingent workers vs. full-time employees. It reduces costs since rates are project-based vs. hourly/salaried, and office usage decreases. Companies of all sizes are partnering with freelancers for customer services, e-commerce development, and web and mobile design.
There's also confidence in the gig economy from the freelancers' end.
Roughly 58% of professionals who are new to remote work are now considering freelancing in the future. And the number of professionals earning a living freelancing full-time increased to 36% (up from 28%).
Based on numerous reports, there's growing confidence in the freelance industry. Both companies and professionals are willing to make the shift because it saves money, provides more flexibility, and offers higher revenue opportunities (for both).
Will freelance work offer the same security as full-time jobs? Depends on the person and their situation. All roles are subject to ending prematurely due to unforeseen events. But at least with freelancing, professionals can have multiple clients at once, and companies can downsize and scale on demand.
If you're interested in joining the freelance market, then we recommend checking out Fiverr. We make it easier to find freelancers and freelance gigs within dozens of industries. This includes:
Join our freelance community today to get started!