Five Years of Insight on the Growth of the Independent Workforce.
The Fifth Annual MBO Partners State of Independence study chronicles a large, vibrant, diverse, and economically powerful component of the American workforce. Independents are Americans of all ages, skill, and income levels who turn to freelancing, contract work, consulting, temporary assignments or on-call work regularly each week for income, opportunity and satisfaction. In 2015, the number of independent workers aged 21 and over held firm at 30.2 million. These numbers increasingly assert that independent work is a satisfying choice that creates new income streams and diversifies household financial risk.
Our report, the only annual study with five years of consistent trend data, shows the independent workforce is broadening and getting younger. The number of Full-Time Millennial Independents (21-35 years of age in our study) has grown from 1.9 million 2011 to 5.35 million in 2015 – a nearly three-fold increase, or 30% of the Full-Time Independent workforce. This year, we also gained new insight into the 12.4 million Part-Time Independents (people who regularly work independently between 1 and 15 hours per week).
Over the next five years we expect the number of Full-Time and Part-Time independent workers in America to grow by 25.4% to 37.9 million in 2020, which we estimate to be 30 percent of the private, non-farm workforce. Adding the category of occasional independents (those who work on an “as needed” or “as desired” basis) based on the same proportion as today, the projected total number of adults in America working independently will grow to an estimated 54 million or nearly 45% of the private, non-farm workforce.