The rise of Uber, Lyft, Task Rabbit, Elance and other online labour marketplaces, combined with employers’ desire to lower payroll and insurance costs, has driven up the number of people cobbling together a living from freelancing. The recent study, “Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce”, released by the Freelancers Union together with freelance platform Elance-oDesk, finds that 53 million Americans, or 34% of the population, qualify as freelancers.
Not all of them make their living exclusively as freelancers. The number includes 14.3 million workers who would be called “moonlighters” —people who have a primary job that pays benefits, and supplement their income with extra work. This might include a full-time tech support worker at a corporation who also does consulting with private clients on the side, or a web developer who takes on projects for non-profits in the evening.