A New Version of the American Dream

Dive into the report, our interactive look at 10 trends that matter, listen to a podcast on the topic, or meet some of the thousands of people on our platform that choose to work independently in our "Independents Across America" series.

2020 State of Independence report

Read the 2020 State of Independence Report

State of Independence infographic

View an infographic about the 2020 SOI Report

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See What the Media Says about the 2020 Report

independents across america map

Meet Real Independents Across America

MBO podcast

Listen to a Podcast about the Report

10 Trends for 10 Years of Independence

Our decade-long research and analysis of the independent workforce have given us unmatched insight and expertise into the trends, behaviors, and needs of this entrepreneurial sector of the American workforce.

10 Trends for 10 Years of Independence

Our decade-long research and analysis of the independent workforce have given us unmatched insight and expertise into the trends, behaviors, and needs of this entrepreneurial sector of the American workforce.

  • 10

    The Growth of the Independent Workforce: A 10 Year Trend

    The short-term disruption due to COVID-19 was acute for both independents and the economy overall. The number of working independents fell 7 percent from 2019 to 2020, to 38.2 million in 2020 from 41.1 million in 2019. These data points are not surprising, given the sharp decline in growth and overall employment due to the pandemic.

    As the economy regains its footing, independent workers will reclaim the ground they lost and experience the same return to strong growth that they did in the aftermath of the last recession.

  • 10

    The Growth of the Independent Workforce: A 10 Year Trend

    The short-term disruption due to COVID-19 was acute for both independents and the economy overall. The number of working independents fell 7 percent from 2019 to 2020, to 38.2 million in 2020 from 41.1 million in 2019. These data points are not surprising, given the sharp decline in growth and overall employment due to the pandemic.

    As the economy regains its footing, independent workers will reclaim the ground they lost and experience the same return to strong growth that they did in the aftermath of the last recession.

  • 9

    Happy, Satisfied, and Continuing

    Between 2011 and 2020, the proportion of independent workers saying they feel more secure working independently has soared. It started at 32 percent in 2011 and more than grew significantly to 56 percent in 2020.

    Further, 7 in 10 independents will continue on their path, and 86% of high-earning independents will do so. 

  • 9

    Happy, Satisfied, and Continuing

    Between 2011 and 2020, the proportion of independent workers saying they feel more secure working independently has soared. It started at 32 percent in 2011 and more than grew significantly to 56 percent in 2020.

    Further, 7 in 10 independents will continue on their path, and 86% of high-earning independents will do so. 

  • 8

    Meet the Independents

    Over the decade, demographic changes have impacted the makeup of the independent workforce.

    Three trends stand out: 

    1. Baby Boomers have continued to work long past the traditional retirement age.
    2. Millennials have emerged as a highly entrepreneurial group. 
    3. Gen Z has entered the workforce and may become the most entrepreneurial generation yet. 
  • 8

    Meet the Indpendents

    Over the decade, demographic changes have impacted the makeup of the independent workforce.

    Three trends stand out: 

    1. Baby Boomers have continued to work long past the traditional retirement age.
    2. Millennials have emerged as a highly entrepreneurial group. 
    3. Gen Z has entered the workforce and may become the most entrepreneurial generation yet. 
  • 7

    Satisfied & Secure

    Independents consistently report that they are healthier and happier being their own boss.  Having autonomy and control contributes to positive well-being, and a rising number of independents feel even more secure being self-employed than being a full-time employee.

  • 7

    Satisfied & Secure

    Independents consistently report that they are healthier and happier being their own boss.  Having autonomy and control contributes to positive well-being, and a rising number of independents feel even more secure being self-employed than being a full-time employee.

  • 6

    Independents Fuel the U.S. Economy and Beyond

    In 2020, independents generated 5.7% of the U.S. GDP - that's $1.21 trillion in revenue to the U.S. economy. As savvy independents have realized their skills are globally in demand, even more are offering services outside the U.S.

  • 6

    Independents Fuel the U.S. Economy and Beyond

    In 2020, independents generated 5.7% of the U.S. GDP - that's $1.21 trillion in revenue to the U.S. economy. As savvy independents have realized their skills are globally in demand, even more are offering services outside the U.S.

  • 5

    Skilled and High Earning Independents Have Found their Niche

    Skilled professionals with specialty expertise have increased significantly in the past 10 years and have found a growing niche in the economy, serving corporations, government agencies and non-profits more than ever before.  These organizations have learned the value of the skilled independent and understand that agility trumps stability.

  • 5

    Skilled and High Earning Independents Have Found their Niche

    Skilled professionals with specialty expertise have increased significantly in the past 10 years and have found a growing niche in the economy, serving corporations, government agencies and non-profits more than ever before.  These organizations have learned the value of the skilled independent and understand that agility trumps stability.

  • 4

    The Rise of the Side Hustle

    Over the past decade, workers up and down the income ladder have found that their compensation simply hasn't kept up with rising costs, especially of education, health care, and housing. This has led many independents to pursue side hustles where they can use their skills, build new ones, and maintain a flexible lifestyle.

  • 4

    The Rise of the Side Hustle

    Over the past decade, workers up and down the income ladder have found that their compensation simply hasn't kept up with rising costs, especially of education, health care, and housing. This has led many independents to pursue side hustles where they can use their skills, build new ones, and maintain a flexible lifestyle.

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  • 3

    Proactive Business Building Soars

    More and more independents are embracing technology and partnership to build their business.  Partnering with other independents is also rising trend as microbusinesses engage in larger projects needing varied expertise.

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  • 3

    Proactive Business Building Soars

    More and more independents are embracing technology and partnership to build their business.  Partnering with other independents is also rising trend as microbusinesses engage in larger projects needing varied expertise.

  • 2

    Remote Working On The Rise

    A majority of independents were experienced at working remotely prior to the pandemic, and these numbers only grew during the pandemic. 

  • 2

    Remote Working On The Rise

    A majority of independents were experienced at working remotely prior to the pandemic, and these numbers only grew during the pandemic. 

  • 1

    Interest in Independence Continues to Grow

    As of 2020, 48 percent of the U.S. private workforce has worked independently at some point in their careers. By 2025, we expect this number to reach 54 percent, a rate of more than 3 times the growth of employment in the United States. 

  • 1

    Interest in Independence Continues to Grow

    As of 2020, 48 percent of the U.S. private workforce has worked independently at some point in their careers. By 2025, we expect this number to reach 54 percent, a rate of more than 3 times the growth of employment in the United States. 

Learn about our Independents Across America

We have asked dozens of independents across America to share what they do, why they do it, and what being independent means to them. Hear their stories. 

5 Trends for the
Future of American Innovation

  • 1

    Technology continues to enable and empower independent workers while also making it easier to start and operate an independent business.

  • 2

    Using independent workers improves business flexibility and agility for employers.

  • 3

    Workers increasingly want the autonomy, control, and flexibility independent work provides.

  • 4

    The need for many workers to generate supplemental income continues to grow due to stagnant wages, fewer middle-wage jobs, and increasing costs, especially for housing, health care, education, childcare, and retirement.

  • 5

    A growing support infrastructure of products, services, and programs makes it easier, cheaper, and less risky to become independent.

5 Trends for the
Future of American Innovation

  • 1

    Technology continues to enable and empower independent workers while also making it easier to start and operate an independent business.

  • 2

    Using independent workers improves business flexibility and agility for employers.

  • 3

    Workers increasingly want the autonomy, control, and flexibility independent work provides.

  • 4

    The need for many workers to generate supplemental income continues to grow due to stagnant wages, fewer middle-wage jobs, and increasing costs, especially for housing, health care, education, childcare, and retirement.

  • 5

    A growing support infrastructure of products, services, and programs makes it easier, cheaper, and less risky to become independent.

Key Insights

man working at computer on beach

Digital Nomads: How COVID-19 Impacted Digital Nomadism

COVID-19 and the Rise of the Digital Nomad The 2020 report covers how COVID-19 led to a marked increase in digital nomads worldwide and what this population of flexible workers looks like today. In 2020, the U.S. and the entire world witnessed a seismic shift toward remote work, accelerated in large part due to the…

End of Jobs

7 Predictions for the Future of Work

,

Founder Gene Zaino shares 7 insights for the future of work and a new chapter for the book The End of Jobs.

man staring out window

Building an Agile Workforce in a Post COVID World

The world today is in a near-constant state of change. While we are not yet in full post-COVID-19 territory, organizations are beginning to reopen and navigate what the future looks like. There’s no question that the pandemic accelerated the implementation of new workforce strategies for many businesses-whether they were ready for it or not-and in…

Client of choice image 2020

Attract and Retain Top Talent by Becoming a Client of Choice

A Look Into the 4th Annual Client of Choice Report The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt keenly throughout enterprise organizations in all sectors. As enterprises strive to adapt to the changing realities and economic impacts of this new normal, it is only natural to seek new ways to reach corporate goals.  Enter…

Key Insights

man working at computer on beach

Digital Nomads: How COVID-19 Impacted Digital Nomadism

COVID-19 and the Rise of the Digital Nomad The 2020 report covers how COVID-19 led to a marked increase in digital nomads worldwide and what this population of flexible workers looks like today. In 2020, the U.S. and the entire world witnessed a seismic shift toward remote work, accelerated in large part due to the…

End of Jobs

7 Predictions for the Future of Work

,

Founder Gene Zaino shares 7 insights for the future of work and a new chapter for the book The End of Jobs.

man staring out window

Building an Agile Workforce in a Post COVID World

The world today is in a near-constant state of change. While we are not yet in full post-COVID-19 territory, organizations are beginning to reopen and navigate what the future looks like. There’s no question that the pandemic accelerated the implementation of new workforce strategies for many businesses-whether they were ready for it or not-and in…

Client of choice image 2020

Attract and Retain Top Talent by Becoming a Client of Choice

A Look Into the 4th Annual Client of Choice Report The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt keenly throughout enterprise organizations in all sectors. As enterprises strive to adapt to the changing realities and economic impacts of this new normal, it is only natural to seek new ways to reach corporate goals.  Enter…

Download the MBO Partners State of Independence in America 2020 Report