Recently published estimates put the number of freelance workers at approximately 53 million American employees. That's roughly 34% of the nation's workforce! Economic forecasts report that the conversion of traditional employment relationships to freelancing will continue to increase, with some estimates in the 50 percent ballpark within the next 5 years, making freelance the fastest-growing labor segment.
Many companies are revamping their technological, personnel and legal infrastructures to support the independent contractor business relationship. Supporting this trend, the demand for features and new implementations of vendor and freelance management systems and human resource training on legal compliance with state and federal independent contractor/freelance requirements has been increasing.
Bureau of Labor Statistics published figures showing continued industry and commercial demand for specific categories of freelancers, with significant growth in management analysts at 72% jump from 70,000 to 121,000, construction, painters and maintenance up nearly 30% from 154,000 to approximately 200,000 and accountants and auditors climbing 13% up from 107,000 to 120,000.
The growing popularity of freelancing can be very beneficial for small business owners because freelancers make it easy for them to get extra help when they need it without having to have the major business expenses of new equipment, software, employee training, or benefits and salary for hiring a regular employee.
Supporting these figures on the freelancer side, self-employment numbers for writers and authors is currently nearly 500,000 with photographers (still and video) numbers at 84,000.
Freelance demand remains especially high for specific niche skills, but freelancing is open to far more fields than it was just a few years ago with new opportunities in project management, as insurance inspectors, for accountants and auditors, and for web developers.
Business owners in all industries of all sizes and customer types continue to recognize the importance to their customers and their business image of a well implemented web presence. Consequently, website and social media design and development continues to be among the most popular outsourced jobs open to freelancers.
Following and supporting web design, graphic design, content writing and sales and training video are necessary to today's businesses. Companies need logos, business cards, graphics, web layouts and the rise of the company blog and social media presence has created written content demand. Sales and marketing teams need product video to present to their customers and trade shows. Independent contractors will continue to fill these labor roles efficiently time-wise and dollar-wise.
Marketing expertise of all type creates freelancing outsource opportunities. Online campaign testing is efficiently handled by independent contractor expertise. Companies need skill in the areas of search engine optimization, Google Adwords, email campaigns and Twitter and Facebook initiatives and promotions.
Global and domestic economic trends will alter the employment relationships between workers and businesses. Growth in freelancing fills gaps created by displaced workers and business needs. The independent contractor relationship will prove a cost effective means to fill corporate roles in specialized skill niches. The inevitable trend towards increasing freelancer employment relationships will prove rewarding to businesses and workers.