Freelance Industry Statistics

Within the dynamic landscape of the global workforce today, the Freelance industry statistics reveal that freelancing has become a substantial force, involving around 1.57 billion individuals on a global scale.

The surge in freelance opportunities is notably propelled by online freelancing platforms, serving as catalysts for this paradigm shift. Recent statistics reveal a remarkable trend, with 71% of freelancers experiencing a surge in online work opportunities over the past several years. 

Moreover, the freelance landscape is poised for substantial growth, as freelancers are projected to constitute most of the US workforce, reaching 51% by 2027.

1. Freelance Industry Key Statistics

  • Global Freelancer Population: The worldwide population of freelancers has surpassed 1.57 billion in 2023.
  • Full-Time Freelancers: A remarkable 94% of freelancers engage in freelance work on a full-time basis.
  • US Freelancer Growth: In 2020, the United States witnessed 59 million individuals participating in freelance work, showcasing an increase from 2014 when the count was around 53 million.
  • Skilled Freelancer Earnings: Freelancers specializing in skilled services command an average hourly rate of $28, exceeding 70% of workers in the US economy.
  • 2027 Projection: With a current count exceeding 58 million, freelancing is anticipated to become the predominant workforce in the US by 2027. 
  • Contribution to US GDP: The increasing influx of skilled individuals choosing to freelance annually has contributed more than $1 trillion to the US economy.

2. Freelancing Market Size

  • Global Self-Employment: World Bank data reveals that 46.7% of the global workforce operates as self-employed individuals.
  • Scale of Freelance Workforce: An estimated 1.57 billion people worldwide engage in freelance work, constituting a substantial portion of the 3.38 billion-strong global workforce.
  • Surge in Digital Freelance Platforms: The global freelance platforms market has experienced significant growth, expanding from $2.35 billion in 2018 to $3.39 billion in 2020.
  • Contribution to Global Employment: Despite the flourishing freelance sector, freelance platforms contribute only 1-3% to total global employment, indicating ample room for further growth.
  • Projected Market Expansion: By 2027, the global freelance platform market is projected to reach a substantial $9.19 billion, highlighting a promising growth trajectory.
  • CAGR Forecast: The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for the freelance market is predicted to be an impressive 15.3% from 2021-2027.
  • Lucrative Professions: Professionals in web/mobile development, marketing, legal, accounting, and other skilled services earn an average hourly wage of $28, surpassing 70% of all hourly wages in the US.

2.1. Freelancing Market Statistics: US

    • In 2020, 59 million Americans engaged in freelancing, representing 36% of the workforce.
    • The total earnings of US freelancers in 2020 amounted to $1.2 trillion.
    • Freelance workforce growth consistently surpassed overall US workforce growth, reaching three times the rate.
    • 80% of large US companies are planning to transition to a flexible workforce model.
    • US freelancers contributed approximately $1.2 to $1.4 trillion to the national economy.
    • Earning more than 70% of the US professionals, US freelancers stand out in terms of income.
    • With a year-over-year revenue growth of 78%, US freelancers are among the top earners.
    • A notable 53% of US Generation Z individuals choose freelancing as their career path.
    • The majority (65%) of freelancers state that they earn more compared to their previous traditional employment.

3. Freelance Revenue

3.1. Global Freelance Revenue: Monthly Growth

Freelancers experienced a short-term slowdown in revenue during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, their income rebounded significantly, surpassing previous levels within just two months.

Month

Growth Rate

January 2020

-9%

February 2020

-7%

March 2020

8%

April 2020

17%

May 2020

15%

June 2020

28%

Source: Payoneer

3.2. Monthly Growth in American Freelance Revenue 

In the United States, the recovery is notably more pronounced, as illustrated by the following figures for monthly growth in freelance revenue from January to June 2020 (Payoneer, 2020).

Month

Growth Rate

January 2020

-1%

February 2020

-1%

March 2020

2%

April 2020

13%

May 2020

24%

June 2020

43%

Source: Payoneer

Freelance industry statistics

4. Freelance Wage Statistics

According to Upwork, professionals such as programmers, data analysts, and mobile developers in the United States can command average annual salaries of up to $120,000

The proportion of freelancers engaged in specialized services like computer programming, marketing, IT, and business consulting increased from 50% to 53% between 2020 and 2021. 

4.1. Freelancer Earnings as per Service Provided

Job Title

Hourly wage

Annual Salary

Writers

$30-40/hr

$42,000

Editors

$25-35/hr

$40,000

Programmers

$60-70/hr

$120,000

General Developers

$50-60/hr

$100,000

Mobile Developers

$55-65/hr

$100,000

Graphic Designers

$40-45/hr

$90,000

Transcribers

$20-25/hr

$32,000

Bookkeepers

$30-35/hr

$40,000

Online Marketers

$50/hr

$100,000

Photographers

$35-45/hr

$42,000

CRM Managers

$50-60/hr

$120,000

Data Analysts

$55-65/hr

$100,000

Source: Upwork

4.2. Freelancer Earnings Growth (2019)

Country

Freelancer Earnings Growth

United States

78%

United Kingdom

59%

Brazil

48%

Pakistan

47%

Ukraine

36%

Philippines

35%

India

29%

Bangladesh

27%

Russia

20%

Serbia

19%

Source: Payoneer

4.3. Freelancer Earnings Based on Age (2020)

Age Group

Percentage Share of Earnings

18-24

6.9%

25-34

46.2%

35-44

32.5%

45-54

9.4%

55+ 

4.9%

Source: Finance Online, Payoneer Survey

Freelance industry statistics

5. Freelance Job Statistics

Freelancers exclusively dedicated to their work earn $3 more per hour than those who freelance part-time. 

Across all age categories, full-time freelancers have an average hourly rate of $22, while part-time freelancers earn $19 per hour.

5.2. Freelance Hourly Rate by Education (2023)

The highest-earning freelancers are those with a postgraduate degree when considering education levels. However, it’s essential to note that having a degree is not a prerequisite for freelancing.

EducationHourly Rate
Postgraduate Degree$24
High School Graduation$22
Bachelor’s Degree$19

Source: Payoneer

5.3. Reasons to Pursue Freelancing

The primary motivation for pursuing freelancing is the desire for independence, as reported by 79% of freelancers who attribute their choice to being self-employed and having autonomy over their work.

Reasons to Go Freelance 

Share of Respondents

Independence, Self-Employment, Be My Own Boss

79%

Better Opportunities for Higher Income

48%

Flexible Working Hours

42%

Variety of Tasks 

41%

Professional Challenge

28%

Source: FreelancerMap

5.4. What are the most in-demand freelance skills in 2023?

A. Top In-Demand Tech Skills for 2023:

    1. Full Stack Development
    2. Front-End Development
    3. Back-End Development
    4. Mobile App Development
    5. Web Design
    6. E-commerce Website Development
    7. UX/UI Design
    8. CMS Development
    9. Manual Testing
    10. Scripting & Automation

B. Top In-Demand Marketing Skills for 2023:

    1. SEO
    2. Social Media Marketing
    3. Other Digital Marketing
    4. Lead Generation
    5. Sales & Business Development
    6. Telemarketing
    7. Search Engine Marketing
    8. Email Marketing
    9. Marketing Strategy
    10. Marketing Automation

C. Most In-Demand Customer Service & Admin Support Skills for 2023:

    1. Email, Phone & Chat Support
    2. General Virtual Assistance
    3. Data Entry
    4. Digital Project Management
    5. General Research Services
    6. Tech Support
    7. Dropshipping & Order Processing
    8. Community Management
    9. Market Research
    10. Transcription

D. In-Demand Accounting & Consulting Skills for 2023:

    1. Accounting
    2. Recruiting & Talent Sourcing
    3. Bookkeeping
    4. Financial Analysis & Modeling
    5. Management Consulting
    6. Instructional Design
    7. HR Administration
    8. Business Analysis & Strategy
    9. Tax Preparation
    10. Financial Management/CFO

E. Top In-Demand Design & Creative Skills for 2023:

    1. Graphic Design
    2. Video Editing
    3. Illustration
    4. 3D Animation
    5. Presentation Design
    6. Image Editing
    7. Cartoons & Comics
    8. Product & Industrial Design
    9. 2D Animation
    10. Video Production

Source: Upwork

6. Freelancing Statistics According to Region

6.1. Freelancing Statistics According to Country

    • US Freelance Growth: Earnings from freelance work in the US increased by $100 million from 2020 to 2021, reaching a total of $1.3 trillion.
    • UK Freelance Landscape: In the UK, 4.2 million individuals consider freelancing their primary job. Moreover, UK freelancers contribute an estimated £162 billion to the economy.
    • Freelance Surge in India: In Q2 2020, India saw a significant 46% surge in freelancers, totaling around 15 million. Despite a 13% revenue dip in April 2020 amid the pandemic, almost two-thirds of Indian freelancers enjoyed increased work by June 2020 as restrictions eased.
    • Freelancer Outsourcing in Asia Pacific: 84% of companies in the Asia Pacific region have outsourced work to freelancers. A survey also indicated that hiring freelancers can result in over 20% savings in labor costs.
    • Freelancing in Africa: Africa currently hosts 10.1% of the world’s freelancers, with expectations for this number to grow in the future.

6.2. Regions with the most freelancers

Region

Percentage of Freelancers

Europe

35.5%

Latin America

29.2%

Asia

28%

Africa

10.1%

North America

4.1%

Source: Finance Online

6.3. Freelancing Statistics: Yearly Growth

Country

Yearly Revenue Growth

Philippines

208%

India

160%

Japan

87%

Australia

86%

Hong Kong

79%

Mexico

72%

Canada

71%

Pakistan

69%

Argentina

66%

Spain

66%

Source: Payoneer

Freelance industry statistics

7. Freelancer Demographics

According to Payoneer, a significant majority of freelancers worldwide, specifically over two-thirds, fall under 35. 

The global freelance workforce is predominantly composed of Millennials (born between 1981-1996) and Gen-Z (born between 1997-2012), accounting for nearly 70% of freelancers who are under the age of 35.

In the Asian region, a substantial 82% of freelance workers are 35 years old or younger. Conversely, in North America, less than half of freelancers are under 35.

7.1. Freelancer Age Demographics

Statista has unveiled an emerging pattern where younger generations increasingly adopt freelancing as a viable career choice.

    • Half of Gen Z respondents (ages 18-22) actively participated in freelance work.
    • 44% of Millennials (ages 23-38) were engaged in freelance work.
    • The projection indicates a continued rise in the number of freelancers in the upcoming year.

7.2. Percentage of Freelancers based on Generation

Generation

Percentage of Freelancers

GenZ

50%

Millennials 

44%

GenX

30%

Baby Boomers

26%

Source: Demand Sage

7.3. Freelancer Gender Statistics (2023)

Gender

Percentage of Freelancers

Male 

65%

Female

35%

Source: Finance Online

Freelance industry statistics

7.4. Freelancer Earnings Based on Gender (2023)

In terms of gender-specific earnings, male freelancers tend to earn the highest in project management, while women excel in sales and marketing. 

Despite men generally earning more across various fields, women surpass men’s average pay rates in multimedia production, marketing, and web and graphic design.

Field

Men

Women

Project Management

$34

$19

Multimedia Production

$25

$26

Sales

$27

$19

Programming

$25

$17

Marketing

$22

$26

Finance

$26

$14

IT

$23

$17

Translation

$22

$18

Web and Graphic Design

$19

$20

Content Writing

$16

$15

Customer Support

$15

$14

QA

$14

$11

Administrative

$11

$8

Source: Payoneer

7.5. Freelancers Hourly Wage (2020)

Age

Hourly wage 

18-24

$16

25-34

$19

35-44

$24

45-54

$27

55-64

$36

Over 65

$34

Source: Payoneer

7.6. Freelancer Demographics: Ethnicity

Ethnicity

Percentage

White

76.1%

Hispanic or Latino

10.2%

Asian

7.6%

Black or African-American

3.5%

Source: Marketsplashq`zz

Freelance industry statistics

7.7. How many Freelancers are there?

Globally, the number of freelancers is estimated to be around 1.54 billion, based on The World Bank’s assessment of the self-employed percentage within the total global workforce.

To arrive at this figure, we referenced Statista’s report indicating a worldwide employment total of approximately 3.32 billion people.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that there is a slight gender disparity in favor of self-employed men, although the margin is minimal.

A. Number of freelancers in Russia

In Russia, the freelance workforce surpassed 18 million in 2021, with expectations of continued growth. The freelance market is projected to reach $102 billion by 2025, compared to $41 billion in 2020.

B. Number of Freelancers in the UK

As of March 2023, the United Kingdom has approximately 4.4 million self-employed individuals. While the self-employment rate faced a notable decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, it is gradually rebounding. In the UK, there are more male self-employed workers than female.

7.8. How many freelancers are in the US

By the year 2027, the United States is poised to have an estimated 87 million freelancers, showcasing an annual growth in the gig economy that is projected to constitute nearly 51% of the entire US workforce. 

Currently, there are around 59 million freelancers in the US, a number expected to escalate to 86.5 million.

In terms of gender distribution, approximately 48% of freelancers in the US are male, while 52% are female. It is noteworthy, however, that across the broader spectrum of the US workforce, a higher percentage of men are engaged in work compared to women.

Source: Statista

8. Freelancing in America

  • In 2021, freelancing made a substantial contribution of $1.3 trillion to the US economy, surpassing the collective earnings of freelancers in 2020 by $100 million (Yahoo).
  • A notable 51% of US workers with graduate degrees engage in freelancing (Upwork), signaling a diminishing appeal of permanent employment to highly educated professionals.
  • Colorado boasts the highest number of coworking spaces nationwide, with 2.4 spaces per 100,000 people (Allwork. Space). 
  • California demonstrated the highest demand for freelancers in 2021, with a total of 174,900 Google searches (TechJury).

8.1. Number of Freelancers in the USA

Year

Number of Freelancers 

2017

57.3 million

2018

59.7 million

2019

62.2 million

2020

64.8 million

2021

67.4 million

2022

70.4 million

2023

73.3 million

2024*

76.4 million

2025*

79.6 million

2026*

83 million

2027*

86.5 million

2028*

90.1 million

Demand Sage

Note: The statistics beyond 2023 are projected using average figures from previous years.

9. The Future of Freelancing 

  • In 2023, the global gig economy is anticipated to reach $455 billion, reflecting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.4% from 2018 to 2023. Essentially, this suggests a remarkable 123% expansion over the course of these five years (Marketing360).
  • The projected value of the worldwide freelance platforms market could reach $9.1 billion by 2027, driven by a CAGR of 15.3% from 2021 to 2027. Despite the ability for freelancers and clients to engage directly, intermediaries are expected to maintain their relevance (WebinarCare).
  • By 2027, it is estimated that the United States will have 86.5 million freelancers (Statista).

10. FAQs

10.1. How much do freelancers make?

The average hourly rate for freelancers is $21. Freelancers, on average, dedicate 36 hours per week to their work. Furthermore, with these metrics, the average annual pretax income for a freelancer amounts to $39,000.

10.2. What skill is most suitable for freelancing?

In freelancing, highly sought-after skills include Copywriting, Graphic Design, Social Media Management, Digital Marketing, and Coding.

10.3. What are the most accessible skills for freelancing?

For those looking to begin their freelancing journey, basic computer proficiency opens the door to opportunities as a general or administrative virtual assistant. This role typically involves simple tasks such as Internet research and email administration.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the freelance industry is poised for substantial growth, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of an impressive 15.3% expected between 2021 and 2027. 

These statistics underscore the dynamic nature of the freelance market, highlighting its increasing significance and opportunities for professionals seeking independent work arrangements. 

As the gig economy continues to evolve, freelancers can anticipate a thriving landscape that not only meets their needs but also contributes significantly to the overall economic landscape.

Group 6098@2x

Looking For A Remote Job?

We can help you kickstart your journey in the world of remote jobs.

Intersection 2@2x