MBO Partners recently released their State of Independence In America 2017 survey. Independent workers now make up 31 percent of the private U.S. workforce (up 2.8 percent from 2016), totalling almost 41 million independent workers.
The survey also shows that a majority of independent workers are choosing to either join the independent workforce or remain part of it — even though there are quality, full-time jobs available. And nearly 20% of them make over $100k a year.
Though you might think the independent workforce is made up mostly of Millennials, that’s not the case.
The independent work force is varied by age, gender, and income.
Independence Is a Choice
One of the most important numbers to come out of this study is the the majority of independent workers are choosing to be an independent worker. The number of reluctant independent workers fell to 24 percent in 2017, the lowest number in all seven years that the MBO Partners survey has been completed. That’s 65 percent of independents who choose to be independent workers.
Independent workers are also reporting lifestyle improvements from working independently. Seventy percent say they’re healthier, 43 percent say they’re making more money, and 48 percent say they’re more secure in their job as an independent worker. Those statistics bode well for the entire independent workforce in the U.S. and the future of work. By 2022, estimates predict that the independent workforce will be made up of more than 47 million workers.
The gender gap between independent workers is almost non-existent with 47 percent women and 53 percent men. What’s interesting is why these men and women choose to be independent workers. Sixty-nine percent of men report that they choose independent work to be their own boss, while only 55 percent of women do. On the other hand, 74 percent of women choose to be independent workers for the flexibility, while only 59 percent of men choose it for that reason.
As companies start to have a talent shortage for their newly created jobs, independent workers have more and more opportunities ahead of them. These opportunities will open doors for more workers to join the independent workforce and for independent workers to make more income.
Independent workers are also reporting good earnings, with 19.8 percent of full-time independents making more than $100,000, which is up from 12.5 percent in 2011.
That’s one in five independent workers who are making more than $100,000 per year.
Talent shortages are especially apparent in skilled labor markets and competitive fields such as engineering and computer science. Independent workers now make up 6 percent of the U.S. GDP, bringing in $1.2 trillion.
Part-Time Independents Supplement Their Income
Along with a growing number of full-time independent workers, part-time independent workers have also seen a surge in their numbers. Part-time independents are defined as workers who do independent work sporadically, but at least once a month. Their numbers jumped from 10.5 million in 2016 to 12.9 million in 2017. That’s an astounding 23 percent increase in just one year.
For many occasional independent workers, their sporadic independent work is a stepping stone towards becoming a full-time independent. For others, it’s just a way to supplement their income.
The best news of all? Seventy-four percent of full-time independent workers reported that they were very satisfied with their work. That’s up from 65 percent in 2016. Happier and healthier? What’s not to love about being an independent worker.
Do you employ independent workers? Find out how Sense can make your job easier by scheduling a demo.