Fiverr released its fifth annual Freelance Economic Impact Report. The comprehensive study identifies and profiles the largest markets in the United States for freelance workers. The report analyzes secondary data sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, to determine the size and revenues of U.S. based freelancers.
“As the way we work continues to shift in ways unforeseen before the pandemic, and autonomy, freedom and flexibility are valued above all else, the opportunities available for freelance talent have become endless,” said Brent Messenger, Vice President of Community and Public Policy at Fiverr.Brent Messenger
Independent Worker Trends Across The U.S.
Independent workers continue to be a powerful economic driver as the economy rebounds from the downturns of the pandemic.
- This workforce is estimated to have earned $247 billion in revenue in 2021, up from an estimated $234 billion in 2020. They represent 3.9% of the U.S. labor force and their earnings comprise 1.1% of total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.
Demand for their services has surged in the past year.
- Half (50%) of independent professionals in the U.S. experienced increased demand for their services in 2021 compared to 2020. Those providing technical services were most likely to face increased demand (61%) compared to professional services (46%) and creative services (23%). Fiverr freelancers were even more likely to see demand for their services rise: 61% reported an increase.
Independent professionals have never been more satisfied with their work, despite challenges over the last two years.
- 75% of these workers are highly satisfied with their work this year, significantly higher than last year (70%). Over 80% believe they are also more satisfied than they would be in traditional employment. These workers are also more satisfied with their independent work compared to their employed counterparts, with 61% being highly satisfied with their traditional employment.
Inflation and higher cost of living has propelled freelancers to increase their hours and rates, but their clients are understanding.
- 58% of independent professionals are attributing the increase in their rates to inflation in the economy, and 53% of them are attributing it to higher cost of living. That said, their clients are understanding; 58% of respondents said their clients have not pushed back. 86% have not lost any business after increasing rates.
Freelancers are prioritizing work that makes them feel more fulfilled, having more autonomy over their work and personal lives, and flexibility over when and where they work.
- 68% of independent professionals have realized it is more important to be fulfilled in their work than just hold a job and 90% value being able to manage their work and personal lives the way they want, with 89% preferring flexibility about where and when they work.
Movement Across The Markets
Sunbelt cities are among fastest-growing destinations for independent professionals.
- Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Phoenix markets are some of the fastest growing destinations for independent professionals. The independent workforce population in these cities has grown an average of 35% over the past five years, while their revenues grew by almost double (65%). On top of that, over half of independent professionals in these cities believe their revenue will continue to increase in 2022.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including its professional workforce.
- Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio (also known in the report as Lonestar Boomtowns) are the top cities in Texas for independent workers, with professional workers (legal, accounting, marketing) making the largest share of professional services work relative to the nation (58%). As a whole, more than half of all independent professionals working across creative, technical and professional services in Texas have seen their revenues increase compared to previous years, and 60% expect their revenue to increase even more in 2022.
Big tech is moving outside of the Bay Area.
- This group (Austin, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Richmond (VA), and Salt Lake City) represents seven rising destinations for tech-focused freelancers, with higher than average numbers of technical independent professionals and a higher share of their revenues relative to other groups. With a highly educated, relatively young population with kids in household, this group may be the next tech-hub for freelancers as the tech economy in general shifts from the large tech centers to smaller cities. There are an estimated 462,000 independent professionals who call these markets home in 2021, earning nearly $17.6 billion in revenues.
Are you not entertained? The answer is “yes” in these cities.
- Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Nashville represent the United States’ entertainment meccas, where creative- and entertainment-related opportunities for independent professionals abound. The markets sport diverse populations, growing and changing landscapes with a higher share of the population who moved there within the past year, and large leisure-dominated economies, making them attractive to creative freelancers. Future growth for freelancers shows great promise for these cities. There are an estimated 533,000 independent professionals in these markets, including over 166,000 providing creative services, as of 2021. Independent professionals living in these markets are estimated to earn over $25.4 billion annually, $7.5 billion of which comes from those providing creative services, a higher-than-average share among the top markets and compared to the nation as a whole.
“The data analyzed throughout the report demonstrates not only the sheer size and growth of this important workforce, but more importantly, the need to ensure this workforce has what they need to succeed in the greater U.S. economy,” said Rafael Espinal, Executive Director for Freelancers Union. “As a whole, freelancing has become more widely accepted due to its ability to provide more flexibility and autonomy for those who choose this type of work and therefore it has never been more important to ensure their success, protection and ultimately, their future.”
For more detailed information and to view the full report visit fiverr.com/freelance-impact.