More Than Half of the U.S. Workforce Will Be Independent Over the Next Decade, Predicts MBO Partners

By MBO Partners | September 19, 2017

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Industry Expert Illuminates Independent Workforce Landscape in 2027, Including Impact of Automation and Growing Skills Gap


Industry Expert Illuminates Independent Workforce Landscape in 2027, Including Impact of Automation and Growing Skills Gap

HERNDON, VA – September 19, 2017 – More than half of the U.S. workforce, or nearly six in 10 Americans, will work as an independent professional at some point over the next decade, according to predictions released today by MBO Partners, the nation’s largest provider of business services and tools for the self-employed and companies who engage them. MBO’s predictions into the future of the U.S. workforce – including more than 40 million independent professionals – is based on data from seven consecutive years of research and insights from their 20 years in the industry.

“It’s no secret that the number of Americans choosing independent work is growing. The very nature of work in America is changing rapidly, resulting in a fundamental shift in the landscape over the course of the next decade,” said Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners. “We need to do everything we can to foster innovation in this area and fully unleash the economic potential of the more than 40 million independent workers in the United States. Businesses, workers and policymakers all need to understand the impact of trends like automation and the skills gap on a major segment of our population to ensure America succeeds in the globally competitive economy now and into the future.”

MBO’s 10 predictions for the next decade of independent work include the following:

  1. By 2027, more than half of the workforce will be, or will have been, an Independent.

Over 40 percent of the adult workforce reports currently or previously having worked as an Independent. In the next decade, that number will grow to nearly 60 percent.

  1. Independence will become an episodic destination, not an end state.

Satisfaction levels for Independents are the highest they’ve ever been, but many will return to traditional work to gain new skills, cycling back to independent work several times.

  1. The barbell effect will continue.

There will continue to be large-scale growth at both the high and low ends of the independent economic spectrum, with gig workers continuing to partner with commodity platforms (e.g. Uber and TaskRabbit) to provide task-based services, while demand increases for highly-skilled Independents, even more of whom will earn more than $100,000 annually.

  1. People will buy results, not labor.

Organizations will begin to place a premium on results achieved rather than the worker. Work will become productized and broken into smaller deliverables, and Independents will learn how to deliver and charge for scalable units of work.

  1. Independents will team up for maximum results.

When bigger and more complex project needs arise, Independents will become increasingly savvy about teaming. Many Independents already pull together teams to work towards a product or deliverable, and this more modern approach helps avoid the complex, permanent decision of traditional partnership businesses.

  1. Automation and AI will impact high-skilled and less-skill independents differently.

Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, and shrewd Independents will take advantage of these developments rather than resist them. At the high end, many Independents may work closely with robots that do more of the menial and automated tasks (so-called “co-boting”), while some less skilled gig workers may be displaced by self-driving cars or drone-based delivery machines.

  1. Gen Z will be the most independent generation yet.

By 2027, a large portion of Gen Z (currently aged 5-19) will be in the working world, and these digital, mobile-literate natives are expected to greatly impact both traditional and independent work. They are the most entrepreneurial and independence-driven generation yet, making them ideal candidates for the independent work lifestyle.

  1. Traditional retirement will no longer be the goal.

Many Baby Boomers are taking up second careers as Independents; this trend will most certainly continue, with workers pursuing passion projects well into their 80s and beyond. Older workers also prefer highly flexible, part-time work, and being independent is the best way to achieve this.

  1. Companies will compete aggressively to attract top independent talent.

The unique combination of a skills gap, talent shortage, and increasing desire among workers to have an independent career means companies will have to compete in a war for talent, both for traditional employees and Independents. Companies will continue to refine policies to attract top talent, with a focus on becoming a Client of Choice for the independent workforce.

  1. Public policy will evolve to match the changing nature of work.

Under the current administration, which has pledged to continue cutting regulations, changes will be made to the U.S. tax code to benefit independent professionals. In addition, actions will be taken to establish a safe harbor with protections and guidelines for the proper engagement of independent professionals. In the coming years, there may even be a certification or licensure established for compliant independent professionals, as championed in MBO’s Certified Self-Employed proposal.

To learn more MBO’s predictions, visit

About MBO Partners

MBO Partners has the industry’s only complete business operating system for independent workers, offering technology solutions that make it easy for self-employed professionals and their clients to do business. By re-envisioning and streamlining the entire contract talent acquisition and engagement lifecycle, MBO improves how independents operate and succeed while helping enterprises reduce risk and get the best return on their contractor investments. To learn more, visit


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