the future of freelance

In 2017, there’s no denying the impact freelance workers have had on the world of business. In several areas, the rise of freelance has caused entire industries and sectors of American life to take notice. The effect of the freelance wave is being felt far and wide. Let’s look at a few areas where freelancers are involved in shaking up the traditional way of thinking. Here is the future of freelance.

Taxes

As is the case following an election year, taxes are back in the spotlight as a hot-button issue, especially in the freelance community. According to CNN Money, 34% of the United States workforce acts as freelance contractors. This means more than 1/3 of the workforce does not have taxes pulled from paychecks automatically. This has led to increased demand for a simplified tax code.

While we may not see helpful changes anytime soon, it’s nice to know that freelancers aren’t navigating the confusing code alone.

Lack of Full-Time Positions

It’s no secret that traditional full-time jobs just aren’t readily available anymore. As author Diane Mulcahy pointed out:

“…The most highly valued and high growth companies of Silicon Valley – Facebook, Dropbox, Twilio, Twitter – they’re not creating full-time jobs at the same rate as, let’s say, you know, the old GEs of the day where they have 300,000 full-time employees”.

The IT and tech industries are becoming increasingly reliant on freelance workers, cutting out more full-time positions that traditionally carry higher salaries. According to a study of 5,400 IT businesses and executives, 85% are going to increase the amount of freelance work they use, while 76% claim that they are under intense competitive scrutiny, probably fueling the lack of positions.

The working world is changing and freelancers are a driving force.

Full-Time Side Work

The shift in labor trends has resulted in many workers simply leaving the traditional workforce altogether. It is becoming more common for freelancers to transition from “earning extra money” to making freelancing their full-time job.

In a recent interview with Boston’s PBS affiliate, WBUR, freelance worker Aaron Ennis claims to have doubled the salary he was making with a retail job and even earned six figures with a variety of freelancing networks. He has since settled down, however he still claims to earn more than he ever did at his 9-to-5.

This attitude is far from surprising. The Huffington Post notes that the trend started gaining steam after the financial crisis of 2008. Many skilled individuals turned to entrepreneurship and freelancing to supplement lost income or help debt.

Even after the economic crisis subsided, many freelancers continued their work and are helping define the future of freelance for a new generation.

Laws

Legislation has always favored the ones with the biggest pocketbooks, but that attitude may be changing. Recently, New York City passed the Freelancing Isn’t Free Act, which assists gig workers from getting stiffed.

The law helps in demanding signed contracts, prompt and fair payment, and the right to retaliate against bad debts. It isn’t the be all end all, but it’s a start. Hopefully, NYC’s approach is the first of many stepping stones towards freelance-first legislation.

The Future of Freelance

Old habits die hard, especially when those in power haven’t changed their worldviews in quite some time. However, as the number of freelance workers increases, we can expect to see continuing changes that reflect a modern workforce.

For now, it’s up to freelancers, the Freelancers Union, and other positive support to continue making the changes necessary to usher in the future of freelance.

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