The New American Worker

Freelancers are becoming the new face of the workforce.

Posted Sep 02, 2019

In today's fast-paced economy, the modern workforce is now a growing community of freelance workers. According to a National Public Radio (NPR) poll, freelancers make up 20 percent of the American workforce, and it is predicted that within a decade, close to half of all jobs will be held be telecommuters.

NPR/Free Getty Images
Contract Worker
Source: NPR/Free Getty Images

The End of Traditional Careers

Prior to the 21st century, it was common for individuals to earn a degree for a specific job, graduate, and enter that career. It was standard for workers to remain in that career for most of their working life, which also allowed them to advance within the company and retire.

Today, the average tenure for an American worker is about five years. Gone are the days of lifelong careers in one industry. Today, the workforce has changed, and there is no such thing as one linear career path. 

According to Martyn Bassett and Associates, “The traditional career path is now dead, and sign-posts of success, high salary, big office, and impressive title are no longer top job incentives.”

According to NPR, it is predicted that contractors and freelancers will make up half of the American workforce within a decade. As a result, freelancing and contract work have become the new face of today's American workforce.

The rate of freelance workers is growing faster than the rest of the workforce. Data released by Upwork and Freelancers Union (2017) indicated that "57.3 million Americans are freelancers, representing 36 percent of the U.S. workforce."

The shift in the American workforce can be attributed to technology, the gig economy, and the need for enhanced skills. Technology has changed the way we work and has contributed largely to the increase in contract workers. 

With email revolutionizing business communications along with smartphones, Skype, social networking websites, chat apps, and cloud technology, communication has reached a whole new level. Communication has advanced significantly as clients are being reached and updated on the latest products and services within seconds.

With artificial intelligence tools, the handling of large tasks and documents is being done via technology and shared from anywhere at any time. In a recent NPR study on contract workers, findings showed that "machines are siphoning off basic tasks, and temporary workers allow flexibility to size up and down. In the legal field, there are online platforms that match freelance lawyers with clients" (Noguchi, 2018).

thebalancesmbc/Free Getty Images
Hiring and Paying Contractors
Source: thebalancesmbc/Free Getty Images

The Gig Economy

The gig economy is a labor market branded by the frequency of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. The gig economy has also played a role in this new trend, from house rentals to shared car rides. It is the foundation of the freelance worker for businesses. 

Through the gig economy, freelancers provide the flexible, skilled workforce that modern companies require. Freelancers understand that acquiring multiple skill sets is key to maintaining a full job list.

Freelancers also serve businesses as highly-qualified workers ready to accomplish clearly defined outcomes. This, in turn, creates both time and cost efficiencies that lead to increased profits for businesses.

Tapping into the gig economy can be a big cost saving to businesses. The ability to hire experts for a specific project reduces overhead and cuts time and hours spent selecting and on-boarding candidates. The utilization of freelancers empowers companies of all sizes to concurrently and efficiently work and increase quality while maintaining more control over their budgets. 

Freelancers are becoming the new face of the American workforce. This new type of worker allows businesses to expand faster with specific outcomes on calculated growth. By embracing the gig economy, businesses of all sizes will be better positioned for sustainability in tomorrow’s workforce.


Zakaria, M.  (September 19, 2018).  The Changing Dynamic of the American Workforce:  Retrieved from

Bolden-Barrett, V.  (April 23, 2018).  Almost half of millennials already opt for freelancing:  Retrieved from

Noguchi, Y.   (January 22, 2018).  Freelanced:  The Rise of the Contract Workforce:  Retrieved from