Freelancers Are 35% of US Workforce—and Growing

So why do politicians ignore them?
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2016 2:08 PM CDT
Freelancers Are 35% of US Workforce—and Growing
Freelancers, like New York web designer Henry Brown, make up more than one-third of the US workforce. And that's growing.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

America's freelancers work more hours than the average American and are earning more money than ever while doing it, Yahoo reports. The average American workweek in September was 34.4 hours—an increase of 0.1 hour that one analyst says is a good sign for the economy. But a report by Upwork and the Freelancers Union released this week found that America's freelancers work an average of 36 hours per week. There are 55 million self-identified freelancers in the US—an increase of 2 million in just two years—representing 35% of the American workforce. And that's not counting the 13.5 million people who do part-time freelance work in addition to their full-time jobs, according to Huffington Post. Forbes reports freelancers earned $1 trillion total in the past year.

So despite the increasing importance of freelancers to the economy, why do politicians from both parties continue to focus on traditional full-time employment? "As a political constituency, freelancers are neglected, and their role in pushing our economy forward is rarely discussed," the heads of the Freelancers Union and Upwork write for HuffPo. "It’s time for that to change." While freelancers may have greeter flexibility in their work—and 54% say they make more money freelancing than they did working a traditional job—they also lack many of the benefits given to full-time workers, including affordable health insurance. The study found 68% of voting freelancers would be more likely to support a candidate if they addressed the issues facing freelancers. (More freelance stories.)

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