- Share of workforce that now performs freelance work currently stands at 36%
- Prior to pandemic, workers turned to freelancing out of choice for its flexibility and variety; now, it’s a necessity
Freelancing was once seen as almost a luxury. Many workers who did it often had the luxury of a spouse’s steady income and/or health benefits from a full-time employer to compensate for the “feast of famine” income and complete lack of benefits. Today, as employers shed millions of permanent, full-time jobs, freelancing has often become a way to survive in a much less secure world.
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According to Julia Pollak, a labor economist with ZipRecruiter, says there has been a huge shift in job postings from permanent to temporary. “The percentage increases are,” in Pollak’s words, “alarmingly big.” Prior to the pandemic, the percentage of temporary jobs stood at 24%. Today, that percentage stands at 34%.
These percentage shifts are predictable, right? When the economy is shaky and uncertain, employers are often reticent about hiring full-time, permanent workers that often include benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation leaves. Additionally, during the pandemic, Zoom has entered the work place… meaning that many white-collar jobs can be done anywhere…and by remote, contract and/or freelance workers.
Futurists predicted a long time ago that this country would become a free-agent nation, one in which workers offer their services, skills and talents independently as freelancers. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and Zoom, do employers really need to spend the time and money on providing on-site space and benefits, as well as the emotional energy on office politics, for employees they don’t have to see while still having freelance and remote workers doing the work and getting it done?
The enormous freelance economy before the pandemic has only grown more enormous during the pandemic. (Why do you think the Department of Labor created the Pandemic Employment Assistance program for independent contractors, self employed and freelance workers?) According to Upwork, an online job site, freelancing contributes $1.2T to the US economy, a good +22% more than in 2019.
Some employment experts say that freelance workers wouldn’t trade their flexibility for any thing, not even the steady income plus health benefits of permanent employment. Others, according to ZipRecruiter’s Pollak, say otherwise. “The vast majority – 90% of active ZipRecruiter job seekers – are looking for a permanent, full-time position…” with the health care benefits, a common sense of purpose and real connections with co-workers who share similar values and missions.
Agents, perhaps it’s time to consider becoming the go-to-agent for Upwork’s ˆand ZipRecruiter’s remote workers?
Thanks to National Public Radio.