1 in 3 Americans Work on a Freelance Basis

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More than one-third of American workers swing from project to project on a freelance basis, according to a new survey that finds the American workforce shifting from salaried positions to short-term gigs.

53 million Americans, or 34% of the U.S. workforce, said they engaged in some form of freelance work in the past year, according to a survey conducted by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk, an online job market that matches freelancers to employers. The share of freelancers jumped by 3% over the last survey conducted by the U.S. General Accountability Office in 2006.

Source: Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk

The question remains, is it nice work if you can get it, or is it the only work available in this jobless recovery? A little bit of both, according to respondents. Slightly more than half said they freelanced by choice, the other half said they had no alternative to freelancing.

On the upside, there was widespread agreement that technology, particularly social media, has cut down the time spent searching for work. More than half said they can find projects online within 3 days, and one-quarter within 24 hours.


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