How Many Freelancers Are There In The U.S.?

By Matthew Zane
Feb. 27, 2023
Fact Checked
Cite This Webpage Zippia. "How Many Freelancers Are There In The U.S.?" Feb. 27, 2023,

There are 70.4 million freelancers in the U.S., as of 2022. 36% of the U.S. workforce currently participates in freelance work, and the total United States labor force consisted of 164.3 million people.

Key Takeaways:

  • Between 2021-2022 the number of freelancers in the US increased by over 20%.

  • 51% of workers with a post-graduate degree freelance, compared to only 31% of those with just a high school diploma.

  • 77% of workers in Art & Design freelance, compared to only 19% of those in Office Work/Administrative Support.

freelancers in the u.s. 2014-2021

Freelancing Statistics

It appears that the number of freelancers in the U.S. has leveled off from 2020 highs, when 59 million Americans did freelance work.

While the pandemic certainly had an impact on freelancing in the U.S., the rise in freelance work was already well underway before 2020.

Number Of Freelancers As Share Of Labor Force

Year Civilian Labor Force (millions) Freelancers (millions) Share of Labor Force Freelancing
2022 164.3 70.4 36%
2021 161.2 58 36%
2020 160.7 59 36.7%
2019 163.5 57 34.9%
2018 162.1 56.7 35%
2017 160.3 57.3 35.7%
2016 159.2 55 34.5%
2015 157.1 53.7 34.2%
2014 155.9 53 34%

The really interesting shift in 2021 is more skilled remote freelance work. 2021 was the first year where more than half of freelancers provided skilled services and/or labor — things like programming, marketing, business consulting, and writing.

share of u.s. freelancers who provide skilled services/labor 2019-2021

Education Of Freelancers Statistics

The above shift described is also evident in the education level of your typical freelancer in 2021. More than half of people who hold post-graduate degrees are freelancers, compared to just 31% of people with a high school degree or less.

u.s. freelancers by education level

Freelancing By Industry Statistics

If you’re wondering what exactly all these freelancers do, there’s pretty good representation across industries. However, freelancing is the dominant means of income for people who work in Arts & Design, with 77% of workers participating in freelancing work.

Jobs in administrative support, manufacturing, and healthcare are the least likely to be done on a freelance basis.

Percent Of Freelancers By Industry

Job Function % of U.S. Workers Doing Freelance Work
Art & Design 77%
Marketing 58%
Computers/Mathematics 53%
Construction 52%
Personal Care/Wellness Service 48%
Transportation 39%
Finance/Business Operations 37%
Sales 33%
Education 31%
Management 29%
Healthcare Support 28%
Food Prep/Service 25%
Healthcare 24%
Production/Manufacturing 20%
Office Work/Administrative Support 19%

How Many Freelancers in the U.S. FAQ

  1. How big is the freelance economy in the U.S.?

    The freelance economy is worth approximately $1.3 trillion in the U.S. This is based on the annual earnings of all freelancers in the United States. This number also rose by roughly $100 million from 2020, an 8.3% increase.

  2. Are most freelancers temporary freelancers?

    Yes, most freelancers are temporary freelancers. About 65% of freelancers do freelance work on a temporary basis, as of 2021. Temporary workers tend to report that they would be making more money as traditional employees, as opposed to non-temporary freelancers who generally report that they make more money freelancing.

  3. What generation freelances the most?

    Gen Z freelances the most. 50% of Gen Z’ers (between 18-22) have participated in freelance work. The rate of freelancing decreases as you get to older generations: 44% of Millenials, 30% of Gen X, and 26% of Baby Boomers have participated in freelance work.

    u.s. freelancers by age

  4. What percentage of freelancers are successful?

    36% of freelancers are successful — that is, 36% of US-based, full-time freelancers make over $75,000 a year. Considering that about 15% of Americans (individuals, not households) earn over $75,000 a year, freelancers actually tend to be more successful than traditional workers.

    Additionally, 84% of full-time freelancers self-report that they’re satisfied with their current position. That’s roughly the same as the US workforce, where 85% of workers claim to be happy with their job.

    Regardless of your definition of “success,” freelancers seem to have found it at equal or greater rates than regular full-time employees.


  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Economic News Release, February 2022.” Accessed on March 2, 2022.

  2. Upwork. “Freelance Forward Economist Report.” Accessed on March 2, 2022.

  3. Zippia. “Freelancing Statistics.” Accessed on March 2, 2022.

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Matthew Zane

Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.

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